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TOPEKA, Kan. — State leaders remain on high alert as the Delta variant continues to spread across Kansas.

Governor Laura Kelly said Thursday that she’s urging Kansans to “do what’s best” for themselves and their community, and get vaccinated.

“The Delta variant is very dangerous. It spreads very rapidly, and it impacts folks who are not vaccinated much more so than people who are vaccinated,” Kelly said.

The governor pointed to the increasing amount of cases and hospital patients in critical care units.

Dr. Clif Jones, an infectious disease specialist at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka, has noted that more patients with severe illness, as the highly contagious variant spreads.

“The people that we have in the hospital are significantly ill, a fair number of them are severely ill,” Jones said. “Currently, our count is about a third of our in-patients are in critical care units.”

As of Thursday, data from the CDC showed a “high” level of transmission for most of the state, marking areas with greater levels of spread. The ongoing struggle to control the virus is impacting hospitals facing staff shortages and putting stress on healthcare workers scrambling to take care of incoming patients.

“We’ve had patients going to states not bordering Kansas, which is unfortunately farther than we’d like patients to have to seek care,” said Cindy Samuelson, a spokesperson for the Kansas Hospital Association. “We can’t keep up with the change that’s happening. We are in a time of flux right now.”

According to the CDC, about 46% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated. This comes as state data shows 2,326 Delta variant cases have been identified in Kansas. The number continues to increase.

State leaders are encouraging people to get a coronavirus vaccine to control the risk of new variants spreading. Kelly said taking this step is even more important as kids return to school.

“I desperately want those kids to be in the classroom, with their teacher, with their friends learning. I don’t want those kids to have to leave that environment. We’ve got to get vaccinated for them.”