COVID-19 (AP photo)

OAKLAND — The highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant has been confirmed in Garrett County.

The Maryland Public Health Laboratory conducts RNA sequencing on COVID-19 case specimens from across the state, and the delta variant was found in a Garrett County specimen, Garrett County Health Department Public Information Officer Diane Lee said via press release Tuesday.

The Delta variant was identified in Allegany County last week.

The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have labeled the delta variant of COVID-19 as a variant of concern because it is spreading much more quickly and easily than other variants of the disease.

"The CDC reports that the Delta variant has been found to be particularly dangerous to those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, and preliminary data indicates that it may increase the risk of hospitalization," the release stated.

"Fortunately, studies show that all three available vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson – do provide protection against the delta variant and help to prevent hospitalizations and deaths."

Vaccination rates for Garrett County residents are 46.1% for those age 12 and older, and 74.3% for folks age 65 and older.

“It is now more important than ever that everyone who is eligible for the vaccine gets it,” Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens said via the release.

The Garrett County Health Department has weekly clinics scheduled at its Oakland and Grantsville offices through the summer, with Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer vaccines available at each location.

Oakland Clinics

Tuesdays at 1025 Memorial Drive

8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Grantsville Clinics

Fridays at 28 Hershberger Lane

8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Scheduling links through July are available at garretthealth.org. August links will soon be available. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are also welcome.

Teresa McMinn is the Digital Editor for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371, tmcminn@times-news.com or on Twitter @teresamcminn1

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