Delta variant

Delta Variant Becoming Focal Point for Health Providers

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Take a look around and people are making up for lost time by traveling, going out to eat, and enjoying each other's company.

COVID-19 numbers continue to remain low thanks to vaccines and natural immunity of those who've already been infected.

Even though there's been a little more sense of normalcy, there's now a new concern, the delta variant of COVID-19.

"It spreads more easily and that means people have to be more careful about masking or we have to achieve higher levels of vaccination to protect against it," said Dr. James Cutrell, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

He said the delta variant is about 50% more contagious than the alpha variant, which has been the dominant strain in the U.S.

“There is a concern that moving forward in the future if there are certain geographic areas that significantly lag behind in terms of their vaccine uptake, those areas may be more at risk to see kind of spikes or surges of cases, due to the delta variant," Cutrell said.

It's unclear if the delta variant, which was first detected in India, will make someone sicker, but Cutrell said it poses more risk to those who are unvaccinated.

“There is some early evidence suggesting that it may be associated with a little bit more severe disease, higher risk of someone ending up in the hospital but I would say that the jury really is still out in terms of that data. Having said that, a virus that is more transmissible or more contagious, just by virtue of the fact that for unvaccinated individuals more of them are going to get infected. That is going to lead to more hospitalizations and more deaths amongst those who are unvaccinated," said Cutrell.

He said people who don't have a shot should continue to wear a mask and physical distance.

"It does appear to partially escape the immune protection if they've had the virus previously or for example if they've only received one of the doses of the vaccine," said Cutrell.

The Arlington Fire Department will be providing COVID-19 vaccines at their Public Health Unit on 2920 S. Cooper this week on Tue-Fri, 9 a.m. -4 p.m. It's open to people from all over, walk-ins are welcome, and those who are between the ages of 12 and 17 need adult consent.

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