Delta Variant Surge Causes Concern
By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor
While Molokai has not seen any new COVID-19 cases since one on July 14, across the state and country, COVID cases are soaring, which officials attribute to the Delta variant’s high rate of spread.
On July 31, Hawaii reported 485 new cases, and the day before that, a record 622 new infections, which the Dept. of Health says came from a combination of a backlog of uncounted cases earlier in the week and the Delta variant’s contagion. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said last Saturday, there were 129 virus patients hospitalized across the state, amidst the biggest COVID surge in the state so far this year.
Nationwide, cases are also skyrocketing, with Delta being the main cause. While officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated as a means to slow the spread, a new study released last week shows that the Delta variant produces similar levels of COVID-19 in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people if they get infected. Experts say being vaccinated still makes it less likely to get infected in the first place, but for those who do, the delta variant can cause vaccinated people to be similarly as likely to spread the virus as those who are unvaccinated.
“High virus loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Researchers found that “viral load,” or the amount of the virus found in the body of an infected person, is an indication of how likely someone might be to transmit COVID-19 to others. A CDC document called the Delta variant approximately as transmissible as chickenpox – meaning an infected person could be likely to transmit it to five to nine people, whereas other strains have an average spread of two or three people.
The study prompted the CDC to once again change its mask-wearing recommendations, now advising most fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors.