PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Health officials along the Treasure Coast are warning residents of a new COVID mutation.
"I think people should be concerned," said pulmonologist Dr. Mark Pamer. "We're at the beginning of this delta wave that's really overtaking the United States. We've seen it in India and we saw it in Europe."
"Over the past couple of months we've been averaging between 25 and 30 cases a day," said Clint Sperber, administrator at the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County. "Since the beginning of July, we have seen that number increase and probably double."
Pamer said the new variant is more infectious and is causing a spike in cases.
He said it now accounts for 57% of the new daily cases across the U.S.
"It is here, but the take-home message will still be to get vaccinated if you have not been vaccinated," said Sperber.
Currently, St. Lucie County has a vaccination rate of 56% compared to 59% in Martin County and 65% in Indian River County.
"Our goal is to get to 70 or 80%. So we have a ways to go," said Sperber.
Sperber said hospitalizations are also on the rise.
"The increase in mortality will trail behind by two or three weeks," said Pamer. "Once people are in the hospital, some people die immediately from the virus. Those that end up in the ICU, it's many times, unfortunately, a one-way trip."