Delta variant concern due to transmissibility
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Ninety-eight percent of COVID-19 cases in Indiana are the new Delta variant, and 96% of COVID deaths involve unvaccinated individuals.
Those were numbers shared by Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Dept. of Health commissioner, during a press briefing she had Friday afternoon along with Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver to discuss the status of the pandemic in the state.
Indiana is seeing more than 900 cases per day with a 6.8% positivity rate for the month of July. Currently, the state sees between 4,000 and 6,000 new cases per week, a number that has jumped from being 2,000 per week in June.
The Delta variant, according to Weaver, has become such a concern because it’s twice as transmissible as the original COVID virus.
Box said it can be passed as easily as chickenpox or the measles.
During the briefing, Box urged Hoosiers from the ages of 2 years old and up to wear masks based on revised recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. She said that, while she did understand many people had differing opinions about masks and the vaccine, she was hopeful that residents of Indiana would do what was right for their community to not harm others.
“Until we increase our vaccination rates and unless we use every tool available to us to stop the spread of the disease, this virus will continue to have the advantage,” she said. “It will continue to mutate, and we will constantly be playing whack-a-mole for the foreseeable future.”
Weaver discussed breakthrough cases, noting that no vaccine is 100% effective. However, vaccinated individuals who get COVID-19 have milder infections and tend to avoid being hospitalized.
“Breakthrough infections are still very low and tend to be mild, but we’re finding they’re more likely with Delta than other variants,” Weaver said.
Weaver asked those who were still hesitant about the vaccine to “research credible, science-based sources.” She also recommended they talk to those who had already received the shot.
When asked about a statewide mask mandate, Box said the state government would defer to local officials. Businesses, on the other hand, have the ability to mandate vaccinations and masks. Box said she supported those efforts.
“I think that the state of Indiana is very much a state that feels that the control should be by local officials, and we are respecting that while also being very clear on what we are recommending from the state level in terms of masking up and getting vaccinated.” she said.
The pair explained the state was following data regarding booster shots for the vaccinated, noting that if the CDC were to suggest a booster shot, the state would be prepared to roll that out as soon as federally allowed.
According to Indiana’s COVID dashbord, another 23,698 Hoosiers are now considered fully vaccinated, bringing the total to 2,954,416. Harrison Countians account for 16,165 of those, up 129 since last week.
An additional 8,277 Hoosiers tested positive for the virus in the past week, bringing the total of cases since March 2020 to 775,686. There were another 54 positive cases reported in Harrison County, making the total to date 4,589.
With the increase in numbers, 11 additional counties moved up to orange status from yellow, including Harrison, which had gone from blue to yellow the week prior; that puts the number of orange counties at 15. The state classifies counties in one of four color statuses: blue, which is the lowest, yellow, orange and red, the highest.
Of Indiana’s 92 counties, 30 remain blue, down 10 from a week earlier and 47 are yellow. The color rankings are changed weekly on Wednesdays. As of last Wednesday, no counties were designated red.
No additional deaths due to the virus have been reported in Harrison County, so the number remains at 78, which includes two clinical deaths (means the person likely had the virus at the time of death but was not tested for it). Statewide, there were 44 more deaths in the past week, bringing the total to 13,596.