July 27, 2021

The Delta variant of Covid-19 gains ground among the unvaccinated

At Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Wyoming, healthcare workers didn’t need genomic sequencing to tell them the highly contagious Delta variant had arrived.

The youngest patients began arriving about two months ago with symptoms of Covid-19. Many progressed from mild illness to respiratory distress more quickly than patients previously treated in the pandemic, said Sodienye Tetenta, an intensive care physician at the hospital. Almost all were not vaccinated.

“We could see that this was not last year’s Covid,” Dr. Tetenta said.

The Delta variant is strengthening the divide between people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who are not, This prompts hospitals to prepare for further increases in cases and health authorities to redouble vaccination efforts. Now the most common strain in the US, Delta is spreading as public life resumes in restaurants, sporting events and other public settings across the country.

Delta variant infections contributed to a 10% increase in daily Covid-19 cases to around 12,600 at the end of last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDD) said on Thursday. English). That’s still a 95% drop from US highs in January. And hospital admissions related to Covid-19 fell 1% from the previous week, the CDC said. Vaccines available in the US protect against the Delta variant, studies have shown, and cases of breakthrough infection in fully vaccinated people appear to rarely cause serious illness.

However, for the unvaccinated, the Delta variant poses a high threat. It is 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which had been the most common strain in the US since March, and scientists believe Delta is associated with more serious disease. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday that preliminary data collected from a set of US states over the past six months showed that 99.5% of the people who died from Covid-19 were not vaccinated.

It is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable.“, He said.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC. Photo: Reuters

Los Angeles County public health officials urged everyone last week to wear a mask indoors in public places, regardless of vaccination status due to the Delta variant. In Missouri, about 55% of adults have received at least one Covid-19 injection, 12 percentage points below the national average, according to the CDC. Missouri’s daily rate of 16 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents is the highest in the country, according to CDC data.

Wyoming is not far behind, with 12 new cases daily per 100,000 residents, CDC data showed, a 32% increase in the last two weeks. In Laramie County, which includes Cheyenne, the Delta variant is spreading in a population in which 32% of people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, compared to 47% of the US population. . In general.

“I have a disgusting feeling that there are people who may not survive due to wrong decisions”said Dr. Tetenta of Cheyenne Regional.

Waiting times at the Cheyenne Regional emergency room have increased and staff have transferred patients from their entire intensive care unit to other hospitals, doctors and nurses said. A floor of the hospital is again reserved for Covid-19 patients. The hospital was treating 22 patients for Covid-19 on Friday, compared with 66 at the height of the pandemic. Executives said they were prepared for a sudden increase.

“There’s a chance that something really explodes here,” said Jeff Chapman, Cheyenne Regional medical director.

Amy Surdam, director of operations at Stitches Acute Care Center, which operates three local clinics, said getting people to pay attention to the latest increase is difficult despite how vulnerable they make the community. low vaccination rates.

Photo: AFP

“People are fed up with the Covid. People just don’t want to hear about him anymore“Said Ms Surdam, a family nurse.

Her husband, Dan Surdam, an emergency room physician and CEO of Stitches, said that misinformation is a big problem. A man whose son had Covid-19 symptoms did not allow him to have a swab due to rumors that people were contracting the virus from test kits, Dr. Surdam said.

“We are fighting two pandemics. The first is the disease itself. The second is the misinformation out there, “said Stan Hartman, Laramie County health officer.

Cheyenne resident Brandi Pennock, 28, said she and her fiancé contracted Covid-19 about a month ago. “The cough takes your breath away,” he said.

Said She does not plan to get vaccinated in the future because her ex-husband contracted a mild case of Covid-19 after being inoculated.

“I don’t want to waste my time,” he said.

Doctors and nurses said they fear an even bigger increase in Laramie after back-to-back rodeos in the coming weeks that are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Wyoming.

Cheyenne Frontier Days, scheduled to begin July 23, claims to be the largest rodeo in the world and calls himself “everyone’s daddy.” Country music star Garth Brooks is booked to perform at a sold-out stadium. Local legend Brody Cress seeks his fourth victory in the horse riding competition.

A rodeo held on July 5 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Doctors fear that shows of this type will trigger infections. Photo: Reuters

Tom Hirsig, CEO of Cheyenne Frontier Days, has encouraged attendees to get vaccinated. He worked with consultants and health officials to make changes so that the 10-day event could mark its 125th anniversary with no capacity restrictions, he said. Vendors and workers at this year’s event will discourage exchanging cash, sanitize surfaces more frequently, and use e-tickets.

“Last year was the first year we missed each other,” said Mr. Hirsig, a former steering ropes champion. “It was like a part of you died by not having Frontier Days.”