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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he's "concerned" about COVID delta variant

The governor addressed the growing concern during a press conference on Thursday morning.

CLEVELAND — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he's concerned about the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant.

In a press conference Thursday morning introducing Ohio's latest Vax-a-Million winners, the governor was asked a question about the spread of the variant, which has shown to be more transmissible than previous mutations.

The governor says low vaccination rates in parts of the state may set Ohio up for problems if the variant isn't stopped.

"We have counties in Ohio that are very under vaccinated," Gov. DeWine said. "So yes, I am concerned about those counties in the state of Ohio that have a very low vaccination rate."

For example, in Northeast Ohio, only 15% of Holmes County residents are vaccinated. That's among the lowest in the state, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health. Gov. DeWine says getting a COVID-19 vaccination is one sure-fire way to slow the spread of the variants.

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"We have the solution," Gov. DeWine said. "It's here. It's called the vaccine. So we continue to urge people, particularly people in underserved areas, you know, that is the most dangerous area."

"The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said at a White House briefing on the virus earlier this week. “Good news: Our vaccines are effective against the delta variant. We have the tools. So let’s use them, and crush the outbreak.” 

The delta variant is known as a double mutant because it has two significant changes found in other variants. One of those changes makes it spread far easier than previous variants.

"In the last two weeks the prevalence of cases resulting from the delta variant has doubled to just over 20 percent," says CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

The other change is more concerning, because it makes it easier for the variant to infect people who've already had COVID-19. In Israel, where about 60 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated, they saw COVID cases plummet a couple weeks ago. Now they're seeing a surge and 70 percent of cases are the Delta variant. Half of the cases are children.

"In the last week since the delta variant hit in Israel there's been a huge rush to get 12 to 15 year olds vaccinated because of how sick they're getting," says Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital infectious disease specialist, Dr. Amy Edwards.

3News' Monica Robins contributed to this report

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player below is from a previous report about the delta COVID-19 variant.

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