L.A. County urges everyone to wear mask indoors as Delta variant spreads

Health

Los Angeles Times 28 June, 2021 - 08:23pm 44 views

Monday’s announcement is one of the clearest signals yet of just how seriously health officials are taking the strain, and the danger it poses, particularly to those who have yet to be inoculated.

Officials have said the Delta variant does not pose a risk to vaccinated people. But there is growing concern for those who have not been vaccinated and are at higher risk. As of last week, 3 in 5 Californians, or 60.5%, have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

While COVID-19 case, hospitalization and death rates remain low in Los Angeles County, this particular variant — which could be two times as transmissible as the conventional strain — presents particular risk of prolonging the pandemic, primarily on the backs of those who have yet to get their shots.

While not a new mask mandate, the county is urging that, as a precaution, “people wear masks indoors in settings such as grocery or retail stores; theaters and family entertainment centers, and workplaces when you don’t know everyone’s vaccination status.”

“Until we better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimum interruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions, like physical distancing and capacity limits,” officials wrote in a statement.

They added, however, that “fully vaccinated people appear to be well protected from infections with Delta variants.”

Officials and experts say the variant, which was first identified in India and is also known as B.1.617.2, may be twice as transmissible as the conventional coronavirus strains.

L.A. County had confirmed 123 Delta variant cases as of last week, 49 of them among residents of Palmdale and Lancaster. Fourteen cases of the Delta variant were in people from a single household.

“While COVID-19 vaccine provides very effective protection, preventing hospitalizations and deaths against the Delta variant, the strain is proving to be more transmissible and is expected to become more prevalent,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Mask wearing remains an effective tool for reducing transmission, especially indoors where the virus may be easily spread through inhalation of aerosols emitted by an infected person.”

At this point there is no widespread scientific consensus as to whether the Delta variant is more likely to cause more serious illness than other strains.

It’s unclear whether Delta-plus is more transmissible than the original, highly transmissible Delta variant. Without more research, it shouldn’t yet be cause for alarm, experts say.

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Luke Money is a Metro reporter covering breaking news at the Los Angeles Times. He previously was a reporter and assistant city editor for the Daily Pilot, a Times Community News publication in Orange County, and before that wrote for the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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First case of Delta COVID-19 variant confirmed in Kalamazoo County

MLive.com 28 June, 2021 - 02:55pm

KALAMAZOO, MI — The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department reports that the first case of the Delta COVID-19 variant in Kalamazoo County has been identified in a resident.

Public health officials are conducting contact tracing and disease investigation to identify close contacts and vaccination status, the health department said in a news release Monday, June 28.

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time, the health department said.

The Delta COVID-19 variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants and is believed to be more contagious, the health department said.

This is the only known case in Kalamazoo County at this time. However, it is possible that there are more that have not been identified, the health department said.

“The introduction of the Delta COVID-19 variant in Kalamazoo County underscores the importance of continued vigilance to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. William Nettleton, Medical Director of Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department.

Based on available evidence, vaccines are effective in lowering risk of severe adverse health outcomes due to the Delta variant.

Related: How concerned should we be about the delta variant of the coronavirus?

The variant was identified in Ottawa County on June 26. Ottawa County Department of Public Health leaders said they were notified Friday that the variant was found in a vaccinated adult in their 50s. The person had recently traveled in the United States.

To date, 60.6% of Kalamazoo County residents age 12 or older have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials report 56.3% have completed a two-dose vaccine series.

“Getting vaccinated remains the best defense against COVID-19,” Nettleton said. “Washing your hands, maintaining physical distance when possible, and wearing a mask if you are unvaccinated or feeling unwell will provide further protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19.”

The health department instructs people to:

People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as a dry cough, fever, body aches, a sudden loss of smell or taste, or fatigue should get tested by calling their primary care provider or visiting one of the testing sites in Kalamazoo County. Testing site and COVID-19 information can be found at www.kalcounty.com/covid19.

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