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Health officials voice concerns over Delta variant and under-vaccinated populations

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 7:43 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Health officials say the Delta Covid variant is now the dominant strain in the US.

While it might not be the dominant strain in West Virginia and Ohio, health officials are still worried about low vaccinated populations.

The Delta variant is more dangerous than other strains.

Washington County Health Department’s Director of Nursing Angie Rarey explained. “They classify it as like a super-spreader. It’s more contagious. It’s easier to get and faster to spread.”

While the Delta variant isn’t dominant in West Virginia, WVU Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist Kathy Moffett says it could be soon.

“So now the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. In the time between now and being fully vaccinated...social distancing, masks, and hand-washing - that’s our best protection.”

While neither Rarey nor Dr. Moffett think the Delta variant requires any extra level of precaution than what has already been suggested, Dr. Moffett does have a suggestion for immunocompromised people. She says she’d suggest for them to be extra careful with Covid guidelines when in a setting in which they don’t know if everyone’s fully vaccinated. This applies even if an immunocompromised individual is fully vaccinated.

Some local populations are further from herd immunity than others.

Rarey said of Washington County, “Our county is only 39% vaccinated. That’s a problem.”

According to a health department spokesperson, that number is expected to go up with another round of people getting their final dose in a few weeks. Still, it’s only projected to rise to about 42%.

Rarey said, “That’s a huge number of unvaccinated people and everywhere I’ve been everyone has relaxed on the mask.”

Rarey is worried we’ll have to go on lockdown again.

Dr. Moffett is also concerned.

She said, “..., but remember last year, we saw a dip come June, July, and August and then September and then we started to see a surge and I worry in these places where there’s only 40, 45% of people, 50% of people vaccinated. That means more than half the people are susceptible. We go indoors in the fall, we’re going to see a surge.”

Other local counties have more promising statistics.

Officials project that in a few weeks, Wood County could reach 84% fully vaccinated and Pleasants County could reach 78%...and neither county has reported any cases of the Delta variant.

WTAP is waiting on data from state health officials to find out if Washington County has seen any cases of the Delta variant.

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