MACON, Ga. — We've been talking about the COVID-19 delta variant almost every day over the last few weeks, and we've heard from health officials talking about the mounting number of cases.
Some of you wrote in to the station asking if there is a test for the delta variant and how public health officials count those cases.
To VERIFY, we spoke to Michael Hokanson with the Georgia Department of Public Health, and Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jennifer Hoffman.
For weeks we've heard that the delta variant is rising, but how do we know that?
The CDC tests a percentage of samples from new, positive COVID-19 cases. Dr. Hoffman says it's a matter of sampling.
"You have a representative sample from positive tests that are collected from various locations, you know, statewide, in every state. Then those are sequenced to see if they are the Delta variant or if they aren't, but that is not testing that is available to the average consumer. It's not testing that is done on every patient. It's done on a small number of samples," said Hoffman.
So, the answer is yes, there is a delta variant test. But it's a lab test run by the CDC, not a walk-in test.
"There is no way to get a quick turnaround of, 'Oh, I went into so-and-so pharmacy, took a rapid test, and now I know this entire variant screen," said Hokanson.
So you might be wondering whether or not the CDC's numbers are accurate.
"As long as you're getting samples, at random, from all sorts of different locations around the states. It's the same as surveys. You don't survey every single person in the country to decide what the public opinion is, you survey a representative group. It's the same idea," said Hoffman.
The CDC uses those lab tests to estimate the number of variant cases in different areas. So, again, the answer is yes. Those are only estimates, but they're based on lab tests.
Hoffman says a patient's COVID-19 treatment will be the same whether you've got the delta variant or some other strain. Health experts do say the delta variant is more easily transmittable.