News Release

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released new information about the newest variant of concern, variant B.1.617.2, also known as the Delta variant.

Following the CDC’s recent classification update on June 14, DHS will begin reporting current case counts that are updated weekly, starting tomorrow, June 17. This strain was previously classified as a variant of interest, but has since been raised to a variant of concern.

The CDC has established criteria for identifying variants that may be more worrisome than others. Variants are most commonly raised to variants of concern if they show evidence of being more contagious, causing more severe illness, or are more difficult to treat using known therapies. DHS, using CDC’s criteria, publicly reports on variants of concern.

To date, 26 cases of the Delta variant have been identified in Wisconsin since April 2021. Variants are identified through a process called whole genome sequencing. Whole genome sequencing takes a sample of the virus from a positive SARS-CoV-2 test specimen and reads its genetic code. DHS, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, and other laboratory partners regularly perform whole genome sequencing on a portion of positive tests.

"Wisconsin continues to report an increasing proportion of COVID-19 cases across the state that are variants of concern,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We urge Wisconsinites to protect themselves, their families, and their communities by getting vaccinated. The sooner people get vaccinated against COVID-19, the less opportunity for the virus to keep mutating.”

View the entire news release.


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