Health officials in Colorado have predicted that the Delta coronavirus variant is likely to become the dominant strain circulating in the state after seeing a steady increase in recent weeks. In a briefing held Monday, the state’s epidemiologist said the strain now accounts for 40% of the state’s cases, while nationwide it makes up about 20% of cases. Dr. Rachel Herlihy said Colorado is second in the U.S. in terms of Delta cases, falling only behind Missouri. “We’ve seen that rise pretty rapidly in Colorado,” Herlihy said. “It’s not surprising because what we know about this variant is it is much more transmissible than other types of SARS-CoV-2 variants.” WHITE HOUSE TO NARROWLY MISS 70% COVID VACCINATION GOAL BY JULY 4Herlihy and other officials on the call urged Colorado residents who have already been vaccinated to get their shots, citing the Delta variant as a main source of concern. She noted data coming out of the U.K. suggesting a more severe course of disease in patients infected with the variant, and double the hospitalization rate compared to previously identified strains. “It’s more easily spread from person-to-person meaning if you are unvaccinated and exposed to COVID-19 now, your chances of becoming infected are much greater now than they were earlier in the pandemic,” Herlihy said. The state is preparing to launch a call and text messaging campaign to residents who have not yet been vaccinated as they push for wider protection across the region. According to state data over 2.8 million people have been fully vaccinated. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGEThe first cases of the Delta variant in Colorado were discovered in Mesa County in early May.