TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—There have been two cases of the emerging COVID-19 Delta variant found in Tompkins County, the health department confirmed Thursday, the first of the variant found locally. However, though the variant is known for quicker spreading, Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said there has been no spread found beyond those two cases.

The health department did not specify when the Delta cases were detected, but did say that both people who tested positive had “recovered,” which historically has meant that they are both now testing negative for coronavirus. That also likely means several days have passed since the positive tests were discovered.

“We are aware of two recent local cases of the Delta coronavirus variant, both individuals have recovered and we have not seen any spread beyond these two cases,” Kruppa said in a statement.

Other variants have made their way to Tompkins County over the last several months, though the Delta variant is now expected to be the dominant form of the coronavirus in America in the coming weeks. It has been determined to be more transmissible than other variants of the virus, and is currently causing 90 percent of infections in India (though it is different from the recently announced Delta-plus variant).

The general tone from the health department remains the same: That vaccinations are the best way to defeat the virus, even the Delta variant. Tompkins County’s vaccine climb has slowed significantly, and now stands at 75.3 percent of people over 18 and 67.6 percent of total Tompkins County residents.

Though its emergence has generated a new wave of vaccine skepticism, Dr. Tony Fauci, Director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated explicitly yesterday that the COVID-19 vaccines available in America are still above 90 percent effective against the Delta variant.

“Overall our cases are very low and testing has also significantly decreased, while we may not see every case or variant we know that the vaccines are stopping nearly all symptomatic disease regardless of the variant,” Kruppa said. “The best thing we can do to protect against any variant at this time is to get vaccinated and encourage those around us to do so as well, vaccine is readily available, safe, and effective.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com