WVUE Fox 8 Segment
Spokesperson: Dr. Meredith Maxwell, Touro Family Medicine Physician
Topic: COVID-19 Delta Variant Resurgence
Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again, specifically the delta variant greatly effecting Louisiana. Louisiana now has the highest recent COVID case growth in the US with the White House declaring Louisiana a “State of Concern”. Hospitalizations and positive cases continue to rise locally increasing the importance of vaccinations and testing. Touro Family Medicine physician, Dr. Meredith Maxwell, is here to discuss the surge of the Delta variant, and importance of testing even after vaccination.
How is the Delta variant different than other COVID-19 variants?
The Delta variant has a transmission rate of 50-80% higher than that of the Alpha variant. This variant is highly mobile and is spreading across the US very quickly. The delta strain accounts for 83.2% of recent U.S. cases. The delta variant is also more prevalent in younger unvaccinated people between the ages of 20-40 years old.
The overwhelming number of cases and hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals. According to the CDC, over 97 percent of people who are entering the hospital right now are unvaccinated. If you're vaccinated, you have very good (but not absolute) protection against severe outcomes - hospitalization and death.
What are the signs and symptoms that people should watch out for?
The CDC does not indicate any symptoms of the Delta variant that differ from the original strain of the virus. Symptoms are showing up most in those who remain unvaccinated. The symptoms to pay attention to, even after receiving your vaccine are:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
The Louisiana Department of Health is aware of a statistically small number of “breakthrough cases,” or individuals who contracted COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Based on the latest numbers, of the more than 1.8 million Louisianans who have been vaccinated, about 0.1% have contracted the Delta variant. Most breakthrough infections that do occur are mild. Unfortunately, as transmission increases, so will breakthrough infections.
When should we get tested again?
CDC recommends that anyone with any signs or symptoms get tested, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. If you get tested because you have symptoms or were potentially exposed to the virus, you should stay away from others pending test results.
If you know or suspect that you have been exposed you should take a COVID test immediately.
- If positive, you should isolate immediately.
- If negative, you should retest again between five and seven days post-exposure.
- If they develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point they should test and immediately isolate pending the results.
How can we reduce our risk?
The easiest way to protect yourself from contracting and passing COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated. The goal of our efforts has always been to save lives and end the pandemic. The way we do that is with the COVID vaccines – when enough people get the shot, you create a protective bubble against COVID. That we have not created that protective bubble here allows COVID to keep spreading and mutating into more contagious, potentially dangerous strains called variants.
Due to the low vaccination rate in our state and high incidence of COVID positive cases, we recommend masking, good hand hygiene, and social distancing to stay safe and stop the spread.
For information on COVID testing and vaccinations available at Touro call 504.290.5100.