The Latest on the Covid Delta Variant

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In the United States, COVID-19 vaccine access is widespread. Unfortunately, so too is the Delta variant, a highly contagious COVID-19 variant that was first detected in India in December. As concerns about this now-dominant variant rise, you can learn all about it below.

How much more contagious is Delta than other covid variants?

The Delta variant has caused a sharp increase in worldwide COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Relaxed mask guidelines, not practicing social distancing, low rates of COVID-19 vaccinations in certain areas, and the lack of vaccine availability elsewhere all caused the Delta variant to rapidly become the dominant variant in the United States. This shift has taken place as 166,861,912 Americans (51 percent) have been fully vaccinated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant has caused more than 93 percent of new infections. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant has also spread to more than 135 countries.

Does delta make you sicker than other variants?

Scientists aren’t certain about whether the Delta variant can make a person more ill than other variants. Currently, evidence on the variant’s potential increased severity is limited and anecdotal. However, an internal CDC document disclosed in July cited several studies from other countries showing that Delta infections are more likely to cause hospitalizations. The document concluded that Delta’s severity is likely greater than other variants.

What’s the risk for unvaccinated people?

Covid-related hospitalizations in the United States are at a six-month high, primarily affecting areas with low vaccination rates. Recently, COVID-19 cases have averaged approximately 100,000 for three days in a row, an increase of 35 percent over the past week. In particular, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Florida have been greatly affected. 

Compared to vaccinated people, unvaccinated individuals are far more likely to be infected with the Delta variant. Additionally, if an unvaccinated person has to be hospitalized in an area where there are many people hospitalized with the Delta variant, the influx of patients could be overwhelming for healthcare workers in hospitals. The current situation in many hospitals resembles the crisis at the start of the pandemic.

Can vaccinated people spread the Delta variant?

Vaccinated people can still be infected by the Delta variant. However, the COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of hospitalization or death. Additionally, a vaccinated person who does get infected by the variant will likely experience mild COVID-19 symptoms, if any at all.

What is the current CDC guidance for mask use?

Although mask mandates have been more relaxed, it’s best to wear a mask whether you’re vaccinated or not. If you’re not fully vaccinated, the CDC advises that you wear a mask in indoor public places. 

Additionally, in areas with high cases of COVID-19, the CDC recommends wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with people who aren’t fully vaccinated. People who have a medical condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system are also not fully protected and will need to wear masks. 

Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required if you decide to travel on buses, trains, planes, and other forms of public transportation within or outside the United States. Additionally, face masks are required while you’re in transportation hubs such as airports and stations. In addition to mask use, the CDC also advises people to social distance.

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