TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KSHV) – The Bowie County Local Health Authority in Texarkana has confirmed that the Delta variant, a new strain of the coronavirus, has reached the area.

According to medical professionals, the new strain is spreading at a much faster rate than the original form of COVID-19, and more than half of the new COVID-19 cases are the delta variant. Doctors believe it is even more contagious than the regular COVID-19 strain.

“We definitely need to be worried about the Delta variant of the COVID disease process. It’s in all of the United States,” said Dr. Matt Young with the Bowie County Local Health Authority.

Dr. Young says since the symptoms are very similar, the only way to tell the difference between variants of the virus is through testing.

“It’s usually done when we send off the PCR test. And it’s usually done at one of the state or independent labs that are checking and making sure that it’s here or not here.”

The delta variant can cause more severe illness; Especially, for the unvaccinated population.

“You may still be able to get COVID even though if you are vaccinated. But you will not get it as severe if you were not vaccinated,” Dr. Young.

Healthcare workers strongly encourage people to get the vaccine. Otherwise, if the number of cases continues to rise at a fast rate, the consequences could be strict guidelines again and possibly shutting down.

“Nobody wants to go back to where we were and that’s one of the reasons and also it’s important to get vaccinated. But that could be a potential and that will be decided at a higher level of government along with healthcare.”

Medical professionals expect many more cases of the Delta variant in the Texarkana region soon.