UNDATED -- Health officials say they are closely monitoring a COVID-19 variant circulating in the state.

The Minnesota Department of Health says while case numbers in the state have been relatively low, they have recently begun trending up due to a newer strain of the virus.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm says despite accounting for less than one percent of the state’s total infections in mid-June, the Delta variant is now responsible for 75 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state. She says the majority of positive tests are coming from people who have not been vaccinated.

Over the last few months, we'd all been very relieved and very happy to see a persistent decline in COVID-19 case numbers, but that's unfortunately changed. COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled in the United States over the last two weeks.  CDC officials and federal officials generally are now referring to the dramatic case growth that's happening in the United States again as a 'pandemic of the unvaccinated,' and we're certainly seeing this in Minnesota with our definite increase in cases here too.

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Malcolm says the strain is even more contagious than other variants we have previously seen. Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann says reports from other states suggest kids could become more seriously ill with the new strain as well.

Children continue to be more spared in general, but we've heard from colleagues in other states that they have seen more severe disease in children with delta, so I think that on the whole what's concerning is we have seen the age of our more severe disease drop over time.

Ehresmann says one major outbreak of the Delta variant in the United States has been linked to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Health officials strongly recommend anyone who has recently traveled there get tested for COVID-19.

Despite more than 68 percent of Minnesotans over the age of 16 having received at least one dose of the vaccine, Ehresmann says "herd immunity" is a moving target as COVID continues to mutate.

However, the department says the current vaccines seem to be holding up against the different variants, as over 99.9 percent of people in the state who have been fully vaccinated have not since tested positive for the virus.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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