Low vaccination rates and a more contagious strain are a dangerous combination.
After a year and a half of caring for patients, I took my first vacation since the pandemic struck in March of 2020. We had zero Covid-19 hospitalized patients when I left town. When I returned six days later, we had five pregnant patients hospitalized with Covid.
One of our three Dallas Fort Worth Hospitals had twenty-three total Covid-19 hospitalized individuals, including multiple patients intubated in the ICU fighting for their life.
What a difference a week makes.
For several weeks experts warned us of the rising cases of the Covid-19 Delta Variant. The Delta variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta), was first identified in India in late 2020. This strain rapidly spread throughout the world and is now the dominant variant in the United States, including Texas.
My trusted colleague and friend for the last 25 years, Dr. Jennifer Shuford is now Texas’ chief state epidemiologist. She spoke with Texas Standard and broke down the key facts all Texans need to know. Dr. Shufford warns the combination of low vaccination rates, the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant, and the steepness of the current Delta variant curve paint an ominous potential future for our State over the next few months.
Dr. Shuford emphasizes the delta variant is popping up all over Texas, but the people at most significant risk are in areas with low vaccination rates.
The Delta variant is the most contagious variant so far. It passes easily and quickly from person to person. Children also catch the delta variant at a higher right than the original Covid-19 virus.
Health experts have warned us all to prepare for its impact. Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virology professor at Texas A&M University, told The Texas Tribune:
Clearly, COVID is not over.
The Delta variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta), was first identified in India in late 2020. This strain rapidly spread throughout the world and is now the dominant variant in the United States, including Texas.
In mid-June, the CDC labeled Delta as a variant of concern. Inside of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a smaller group called the SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group (SIG) developed a Variant Classification scheme that defines three classes of SARS-CoV-2 variants:
The Delta variant is nasty. A mutation in the spike protein makes the virus more “sticky.” It is more contagious and spreads in children faster than the original Covid-19 strain.
As older age groups get vaccinated, those who are younger and unvaccinated will be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 with any variant, but Delta seems to be impacting younger age groups more than previous variants.
The Delta variant is spreading fast in states with low vaccination rates and states where Government officials like Governor Greg Abbott do not take the virus seriously or listen to scientific experts.
On June 5, Governor Greg Abbott, who says he believes in local control of schools, issued a Government mandate blocking districts from requiring mask mandates. His Executive Order prohibits local leaders from following the science or deciding what is best for their communities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released 2021–22 school recommendations that included strong support for in-person learning and recommended that everyone older than age two wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
Governor Abbott believes individual responsibility is the key to sound public health policy. His actions do not match his words.
The Governor vetoed The Christine Blubaugh Act, Senate Bill 1109, which coasted through Congress passing with bipartisan support. The bill would have helped reduce the rate of teen sexual and dating violence.
Governor Abbott does not support individual responsibility in reproductive health. He believes the government knows what is best for women when he signed the “heartbeat bill” to limit individual liberty and freedom.
People on both sides support individual liberty. We also want to go to work and send our children to school in a safe environment.
The Dallas Morning News (DMN) reported 40% of all US Covid cases are coming from three states: Texas, Florida, and Missouri. Governor Abbott’s current plan solely depending on individual responsibility is not working.
Here is what Texas looks like compared to the rest of the nation.
National Community Transmission Data CDC.Gov
Becker Hospital Review shared current vaccination rates among the states. Texas Ranks number 38. Thirty-seven states have a higher vaccination rate than Texas
- #38. Texas Number of people fully vaccinated: 12,503,152 Percentage of the population fully vaccinated: 43.12
- #39. Missouri Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,484,985 Percentage of the population fully vaccinated: 40.49
- #25. Florida Number of people fully vaccinated: 10,320,953 Percentage of the population fully vaccinated: 48.05
The DMN reported Texas added 25,026 coronavirus cases which account for 8.9% of all cases in the US. The Delta variant cases all appearing all over the State, but clusters are centered in large metropolitan areas. Travis County and Houston have raised the threat level based on the rise in cases. Dallas County has not.
Delta Clusters in Texas Texas Department of Health Services
The University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) in Dallas has consistently provided reliable data since the onset of the pandemic. Their experts warn we must improve vaccination rates to prevent the spread of the Delta Variant.
UTSW Infectious disease faculty explain the current state of affairs here in this video.
Article originally published on Medika Life.
Blog Author: Dr. Jeff Livingston
Main Blog Photo By: Center for Disease Control and Prevention