EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch the press conference of the announcement in the video player below.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Three cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant have been identified in the area, according to city officials.
The city of El Paso announced the discovery during a press conference on Friday afternoon. Three Delta cases were identified in unvaccinated women, one including a woman in her 20’s, the others ranging from ages 40-60.
One of those cases was hospitalized but has since been released to quarantine at home and the other two are quarantined with mild symptoms.
One of the confirmed cases was travel-related.
Mayor Oscar Leeser urged El Pasoans to wear masks and take care of their health.
“It should come as no surprise to our community that the Delta variant is now confirmed in our community. We knew it was only a matter of time, which is why it is important for members of our community to get vaccinated,” said City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “The vaccine provides an important layer of protection to individuals who may become seriously ill if they get the virus. We are still not out of the woods, so we urge residents to continue to be vigilant, get the vaccine, use caution when traveling or in crowded situations by wearing a face cover, practicing good hygiene, and getting tested for COVID-19 if they are feeling ill, have traveled or believed to have been exposed.”
Health officials say the Delta variant has proven to be more infectious than other versions of the COVID-19 virus. And, earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance for mask waring for communities with “substantial” and “high” transmission.
Friday’s discovery comes as school districts in the area returned to in-person instruction and just before major districts also return.
In Texas, an executive order prohibiting mask mandates stays in place. Governor Greg Abbott affirmed his position on the order this week saying “Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices.”
County Judge Ricardo Samaniego encouraged parents to send their children to school with a mask, especially if they are in elementary school and younger than 12 years old.
Health officials advise that the region is still doing well at administering vaccines and that infections rates are still low.
As for vaccines, local data show over 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, according to city of El Paso data. In a population of 688,420 individuals who are 12-years-old and over, nearly 70 percent have been fully vaccinated.
City data show 87 percent of individuals 65-years-old and above are fully vaccinated.
But data also show there have been 570 breakthrough cases. Breakthrough cases are when individuals who are fully-vaccinated who become infected with COVID-19.
Among those cases, eight fully-vaccinated individuals have died and there 11 in intensive care units. Six of them are also on ventilators.
As of Friday, the city said 971 active cases were identified in the community, with 72 people hospitalized and 23 in intensive care units.
City data show there are 134,201 recovered COVID-19 cases and 2,720 people have died after being infected.