What you need to know as delta variant cases rise across Carolinas

Medical experts from Duke University Medical Center said they are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases likely due to the more easily transmitted and more severe delta variant.

On Wednesday, more than 2,600 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina, and doctors said they expect the numbers to increase.

“This virus has been evolving to become more and more contagious,” said Prof. David Montefiori of Duke Medical Center.

North Carolina health officials also released numbers on Wednesday that showed more than 94% of cases and deaths reported in the state since May 6 have been people who were not fully vaccinated.

>> Read more about the delta variant symptoms here.

Experts say the vaccination is still the most effective weapon against the virus.

“Most people who are hospitalized are people who are unvaccinated, but people who are vaccinated, there is a chance that they can be infected,” Montefiori said “And what we know about those cases is they tend to be mild. But those people are shedding virus and they’re capable of transmitting.”

Regardless of a person’s vaccination status, doctors say wearing a mask is another tool to protect yourself and others. Duke University officials announced Wednesday that everyone, even vaccinated people, will be required to wear face coverings indoors, starting Friday.

“We’re in a very fluid situation here where rates are increasing, so a mask is a very simple thing we’ve learned how to do well over the previous 12 months,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe with Duke University Medical Center. “So, going back to that is a pretty standard thing that we should be able to do.”

According to researchers, different variants of a virus are likely to produce different symptoms. With the delta variant, COVID-19 symptoms seem to present at first more like a cold with a runny nose, sore throat and other upper respiratory infection symptoms.

(WATCH: How to know if you have the delta COVID-19 variant)