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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

COVID-19 Delta Variant in Ohio: Should You Be Concerned?

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The COVID-19 Delta variant is in Ohio, and doctors are worried that people who have not been vaccinated may be vulnerable to this rapidly spreading strain of the coronavirus.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus now makes up about 10% of new cases in the U.S. but remains less than 1%.of all variants in Ohio, said Alicia Shoults, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Health.

That may seem like a small number, but the proportion is growing, said Dr. Daniel Rhoads of the Cleveland Clinic.

The variant, which was first identified in India, is more contagious and possibly more dangerous, and it's helping to drive up cases and hospitalizations in some parts of the country.

The COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are trending downward in Ohio, but Dr. Amy Edwards, an infectious disease doctor at University Hospitals, is concerned that the Delta variant might cause an increase like the local outbreaks seen in parts of Israel.

Edwards said Israel is currently having an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, primarily in unvaccinated teens.

“And this is a country that had gotten to the point where they would have whole days with zero cases reported,” she said.

“We have our eyes on the Delta variant,” Dr. Rhoads said. “I’m not a mathematical modeler, but from the early evidence that we have, it does look like it has potential to outcompete the Alpha variant and could potentially become the dominant variant.”

The Delta variant is also known as B1.617.2, but the World Health Organization recently changed the variants to letters of the Greek alphabet to make it easier to remember.

“For the vaccinated population, I’m really not that concerned. The vaccine still continues to hold up pretty well against these variants,” Dr. Edwards said.

But she is concerned about people who aren’t vaccinated.

Edwards said the primary takeaway about the variants is that the vaccines are effective as the virus continues to mutate.

“So if you want to be able to just ignore all of this yammer about this variant and that variant, just go get your vaccine,” she said. “You’ll be safe, your family will be safe, and these variants just don’t need to make that big of a difference to the vaccinated population.”

 

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