A person holds a test tube labelled ‘COVID-19 Test Positive’ in front of displayed words ‘COVID-19 Delta variant’ in this illustration taken August 31, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

With colder weather settling in, there are reported accounts of a new “Delta Plus” variant surfacing in 8 states. Health officials are keeping a close eye on the new strain and, while it may spread faster than the original variant, there are no reports that it causes more severe illness, and authorities say current vaccines remain effective against it. Among the 8 states are Maryland, Florida, and Massachusetts. The CDC estimates that the new variant only accounted for less than .05% of current cases, with federal officials keeping close track of any new reports.