COVID-19: What you need to know about the latest Delta variant spotted in Florida, 7 other states

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — COVID-19 numbers are on the decline in Florida, just as some people are preparing for the opportunity to travel and celebrate the holidays with family—in person.

But now there’s another Delta variant: AY.4.2, also being called “Delta Plus.”

It’s getting the attention of some American health officials, so Action News Jax Courtney Cole went to a local doctor to ask what you need to know about this variant.

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Right now, there are 8 states in the country where a COVID-19 case has been linked to the AY.4.2 variant. Those states are Florida, California, Washington, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

So far, there’s just one case in Florida linked to the AY.4.2 variant, out of 91,744 samples that have been tested, according to data from GISAID. Their initiative promotes the rapid sharing of data from all influenza viruses and the coronavirus causing COVID-19.

Cole reached out to Florida DOH to learn where this case was found, but she is still waiting to hear back.

But she did speak to one man who said that new variant or not, he’s got a plan for the holidays.

“I’m going to eat, talk a few minutes, and then I’m getting out of there!”

Donald Lynn told Action News Jax Courtney Cole he’s got a plan going in to the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Oh yeah!”

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Lynn is one of the many who is planning to celebrate Thanksgiving in person this year.

He knows about the new “Delta Plus” and said he knows plenty of people who’ve had the virus.

“Made me thank God I was vaccinated,” Lynn told Cole.

It’s the vaccination, he said, that gives him the peace of mind to celebrate with others.

The good news is, the current COVID-19 vaccines are still effective against this new variant.

“The AY.4.2 is being found in about eight to nine states across the United States right now, as well as increasing numbers in Great Britain,” said Chad Neilsen.

Neilsen, director of accreditation and infection prevention at UF Health, said at this point the “Delta Plus” variant is not any more severe than what we’ve seen before.

“Right now we’re just watching it. We’re evaluating the strains as we find them,” Neilsen told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

In the meantime, Neilsen said we should do we what we know works: wear a mask, get vaccinated and practice social distancing when you can.

Most importantly, don’t let your guard down.

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“I am looking forward to getting the third shot,” said Lynn.

Neilsen said this new variant won’t really become a concern unless it begins to gain traction, especially in comparison to the other variants they’ve already had some time to learn about over these last 20 months.

The CDC estimates AY.4.2. less than 5 percent of cases in last several weeks.