Delta Variant is Rapidly Spreading in the Midwest Leading to Increased Hospitalizations
While local COVID-19 positivity rates have remained low in recent months, several other states, including Iowa's neighboring state of Missouri, are seeing another surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated individuals. The main reason we are seeing a reemergence of the virus is due to the Delta coronavirus variant, which is known to be the most contagious strain of the virus currently.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and the virus that causes COVID-19 is no different. As expected, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented throughout this pandemic. The variants so far have been classified as VOI (variant of interest) or VOC (variant of concern). The Delta variant is a VOC as it spreads from person to person easier than other variants and may cause more severe disease.
The Delta variant was first identified in India and is now circulating worldwide. It is spreading quickly in the United States and became the dominant form of the coronavirus, now accounting for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the country, according to the latest CDC data update on July 6. In Iowa, it has accounted for more than half of the positive coronavirus tests that included variants of the virus over the past few weeks, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The Midwest, including Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri, seems to be the hotspot right now, with more than 80% of new cases reported as the Delta variant. We should all assume it is circulating in our communities, including Clay County.
There is hope!
Recent studies have shown that the COVID vaccines are very effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalizations - and that is our goal. Vaccination is vital. High community vaccination rates are the key to slowing the opportunity for the coronavirus to spread and to continue to mutate, which makes vaccinations less effective. Low vaccination rates, coupled with few mitigation measures left in place, are an invitation for the Delta variant to spread quickly.
Missouri, for example, has relatively low vaccination rates, particularly in the more rural areas of the state. Those areas are currently experiencing significant increases in cases and hospitalizations. Hospital beds and intensive care units in those areas are suddenly filling - many with young adults who never got vaccinated.
As of Friday, July 9, the CDC reports that 48% of all Iowans are fully vaccinated, which is in line with the U.S. percentage. In Clay County, we are currently sitting at a vaccination rate of 42.4%.
Please consider getting vaccinated if you haven't done so already. It is not too late. We don't want a surge of hospitalizations locally like some areas of the Midwest are experiencing. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective for those 12 years of age and older.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is free and can be received locally through Clay County Public Health, Avera Medical Group Spencer, and several other local pharmacies and clinics. To schedule with Clay County Public Health, please follow this link https://calendly.com/clayph/covid-19-vaccination-clinics?month=2021-07 or call (712) 264-6380.
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and our community is to get fully vaccinated.