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(August 5, 2021) – Yesterday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide topped 200 million according to Reuters news agency. The World Health Organization (WHO), reports over 35 million cases attributed to the United States alone.
More than 4 million people have died worldwide including over 615 thousand in the United States. Within the United States, at least 70% of the adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Even with this tremendous success, cases are continuing to rise across the country. This spike can be attributed to the more contagious Delta variant threatening areas with low vaccination rates and nations experiencing slower vaccine rollout. After a year and a half of observation, it is clear that the county and the country are affected by worldwide transmission and the introduction of variants. With only 9.8% of the world’s population having been fully vaccinated, the solution to this global health crisis is to increase access to and utilization of vaccines worldwide. With the surge of the Delta variant, there has been increased discussion for booster vaccines to immunocompromised individuals. Currently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not advising a third vaccine booster dose while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting research to better understand the benefits of an additional dose of the COVID vaccine. Additionally, in response to the widening vaccination gap between countries around the world, the WHO has called for a moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine boosters until at least 10% of the population in every country is fully vaccinated. This will offer the greatest universal protection against COVID while decreasing opportunities for large scale mutations of the virus. Public Health recognizes that COVID is here for the long term and will continue to adapt and respond to the pandemic as it continues. Emerging data regarding the Delta variant demonstrates that the virus has changed, and the situation has transformed significantly. Observations have revealed that this new variant is more transmissible and people who are fully vaccinated can get sick and transmit the virus to others. The public deserves to know all the facts surrounding these changes and receive guidance surrounding necessary shifts to best protect one another.“We must acknowledge that vaccination is a deeply personal choice and that should be respected,” said Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Grundy. “Those who choose to not be vaccinated need to make smart choices for themselves, family and community. Choices which include basic prevention such as wearing a mask indoors and staying home when sick. The Delta variant has changed the brief reprieve we experienced in early summer. Vaccines continue to be the fundamental protection for the health of our nation.”Data shows that airborne transmission of COVID-19 can be greatly minimized by wearing a mask, gathering outdoors, and increasing ventilation when indoors. Limiting the number of people one encounters can significantly lessen the risk of exposure and the risk of infecting others. Additionally, staying home when feeling anything but 100% and getting tested within five days of exposure or the moment symptoms onset is another way to prevent transmission to others.Public Health remains committed to protecting our communities, large and small, through contact tracing, education, testing, and vaccination opportunities. All residents and visitors play a part to help contain the disease by cooperating with Public Health and implementing preventative measures to protect your close contacts who are, most frequently, your close family and friends. “We must act now to contain this disease in the interest of our greater community, our returning students, our businesses, our economy. We have come too far to give up now,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “Now is not the time to let go of the tools that have worked over the last year and a half. We must come together and make smart choices, out of respect for one another, to protect the vulnerable and prevent a resurgence of the virus in our communities.”