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Bay Area health officials urge unvaccinated people to get shots as delta variant cases increase

Delta variant believed to more transmissible than the alpha variant

Bryant Barrientos, 12, receives his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from Melanie Oliveira, a registered nurse at Stanford Health Care, at Cesar Chavez Ravenswood Middle School in East Palo Alto, on May 15, 2021. Photo by Daniela Beltran B.

While Bay Area health officials don't plan to reimplement COVID-19 guidelines for masking and social distancing for now, their concern about the virus' delta variant is increasing for unvaccinated people.

The variant, first detected in India and now in more than 80 countries, currently represents about 36% of California's new coronavirus cases and is likely to become the country's dominant strain as the year progresses. As of Thursday, July 1, Santa Clara County reported 65 cases of the delta variant.

The main concern, according to health experts, is that the delta variant is believed to be roughly 60% more transmissible than the alpha variant, also known as the UK or B.1.1.7 variant, which is currently the most common source of new infections in the U.S.

While state public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both stood by their current guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to forego a face covering in most settings, the rise of the delta variant is giving some officials pause.

That pause includes the World Health Organization and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, both of which have advised but stopped short of mandating that fully vaccinated people should once again don their masks indoors, particularly in places where the vaccination status of others is not readily apparent.

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"This is something we've been closely following since April," Marin County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Lisa Santora said of the variant. "We had a very proactive approach towards whole genome sequencing."

Marin County has the distinction of the highest vaccination rate in the 11-county greater Bay Area; 91% of residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose and 83.5% have completed their vaccination series.

The proportion of delta variant cases to Marin County's total number of new cases is one of the highest in the state, which Santora said is somewhat misleading since the county currently analyzes each new confirmed case of the virus to determine which variant caused the infection.

"There's probably a lot more delta activity in counties the size of Los Angeles County, where they have higher absolute numbers of unvaccinated persons compared to Marin County," she said.

Marin County's population as of 2019 was just shy of 260,000 while Los Angeles County was estimated at roughly 10.04 million, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Marin County health officials investigated a cluster of delta variant cases in late April and early May, but Santora said the cluster was almost immediately extinguished as it simply ran out of unvaccinated hosts to infect.

"Eventually, in Marin County, it doesn't take long for (unvaccinated) people to interact with many more vaccinated people," Santora said. "When you're working in a county the size of Los Angeles County, they don't have that luxury."

Initial studies have found that the two available vaccines that use messenger RNA to prime the body's immune system — those manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech — are upwards of 80% effective against the delta variant once a vaccinated person is two weeks past their second of two shots.

On Friday, Johnson & Johnson said the one-dose vaccine developed by its pharmaceutical subsidiary, Janssen, is also effective against the variant.

The effectiveness of the two-dose vaccines plummets, however, when a person has only received their first of two shots, according to health experts.

Even so, Bay Area health officials have used the delta variant to underscore the importance of getting vaccinated, not just to avoid transmitting the virus but to significantly reduce the chance of becoming seriously ill or dying.

"While we are not changing our (guidance) at this time, we are concerned about ongoing transmission in our county, especially amongst the unvaccinated population," Contra Costa Health Services said in a statement.

Some 72% of Contra Costa County residents age 12 and up are fully vaccinated as of Thursday, with 78.2 percent having received at least one dose.

Meanwhile, the divide between the county's average number of new cases per day per 100,000 residents over the last seven days was stark as of Tuesday: 0.5 for vaccinated residents, 8.2 for unvaccinated residents.

On Friday, state health officials added to that chorus, urging the state's residents to get vaccinated if they've yet to do so and noting that they expect the state's proportion of delta variant cases to continue rising.

"We are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and its variants across our state," California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon said in a statement. "COVID-19 has not gone away. If you are not vaccinated, you are still at risk."

Breakthrough cases among vaccinated residents across the state have also been far and few between since vaccinations began in mid-December.

According to state data, only 584 of the more than 20 million vaccinated people in California have contracted the virus and required hospitalization, a rate of just 0.003%.

Marin County has identified 76 breakthrough cases to date, Santora said, but none of them have become so ill as to need to be hospitalized.

"A vaccine does not provide a forcefield," she said. "If you're exposed to someone who's coughing with COVID-19, that virus is going to get into your system and start replicating. Your body is ready to respond ... but if you're vaccinated, that's going to happen much more quickly."

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Bay Area health officials urge unvaccinated people to get shots as delta variant cases increase

Delta variant believed to more transmissible than the alpha variant

by /

Uploaded: Sat, Jul 3, 2021, 9:26 am
Updated: Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 8:51 am

While Bay Area health officials don't plan to reimplement COVID-19 guidelines for masking and social distancing for now, their concern about the virus' delta variant is increasing for unvaccinated people.

The variant, first detected in India and now in more than 80 countries, currently represents about 36% of California's new coronavirus cases and is likely to become the country's dominant strain as the year progresses. As of Thursday, July 1, Santa Clara County reported 65 cases of the delta variant.

The main concern, according to health experts, is that the delta variant is believed to be roughly 60% more transmissible than the alpha variant, also known as the UK or B.1.1.7 variant, which is currently the most common source of new infections in the U.S.

While state public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both stood by their current guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to forego a face covering in most settings, the rise of the delta variant is giving some officials pause.

That pause includes the World Health Organization and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, both of which have advised but stopped short of mandating that fully vaccinated people should once again don their masks indoors, particularly in places where the vaccination status of others is not readily apparent.

"This is something we've been closely following since April," Marin County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Lisa Santora said of the variant. "We had a very proactive approach towards whole genome sequencing."

Marin County has the distinction of the highest vaccination rate in the 11-county greater Bay Area; 91% of residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose and 83.5% have completed their vaccination series.

The proportion of delta variant cases to Marin County's total number of new cases is one of the highest in the state, which Santora said is somewhat misleading since the county currently analyzes each new confirmed case of the virus to determine which variant caused the infection.

"There's probably a lot more delta activity in counties the size of Los Angeles County, where they have higher absolute numbers of unvaccinated persons compared to Marin County," she said.

Marin County's population as of 2019 was just shy of 260,000 while Los Angeles County was estimated at roughly 10.04 million, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Marin County health officials investigated a cluster of delta variant cases in late April and early May, but Santora said the cluster was almost immediately extinguished as it simply ran out of unvaccinated hosts to infect.

"Eventually, in Marin County, it doesn't take long for (unvaccinated) people to interact with many more vaccinated people," Santora said. "When you're working in a county the size of Los Angeles County, they don't have that luxury."

Initial studies have found that the two available vaccines that use messenger RNA to prime the body's immune system — those manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech — are upwards of 80% effective against the delta variant once a vaccinated person is two weeks past their second of two shots.

On Friday, Johnson & Johnson said the one-dose vaccine developed by its pharmaceutical subsidiary, Janssen, is also effective against the variant.

The effectiveness of the two-dose vaccines plummets, however, when a person has only received their first of two shots, according to health experts.

Even so, Bay Area health officials have used the delta variant to underscore the importance of getting vaccinated, not just to avoid transmitting the virus but to significantly reduce the chance of becoming seriously ill or dying.

"While we are not changing our (guidance) at this time, we are concerned about ongoing transmission in our county, especially amongst the unvaccinated population," Contra Costa Health Services said in a statement.

Some 72% of Contra Costa County residents age 12 and up are fully vaccinated as of Thursday, with 78.2 percent having received at least one dose.

Meanwhile, the divide between the county's average number of new cases per day per 100,000 residents over the last seven days was stark as of Tuesday: 0.5 for vaccinated residents, 8.2 for unvaccinated residents.

On Friday, state health officials added to that chorus, urging the state's residents to get vaccinated if they've yet to do so and noting that they expect the state's proportion of delta variant cases to continue rising.

"We are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and its variants across our state," California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon said in a statement. "COVID-19 has not gone away. If you are not vaccinated, you are still at risk."

Breakthrough cases among vaccinated residents across the state have also been far and few between since vaccinations began in mid-December.

According to state data, only 584 of the more than 20 million vaccinated people in California have contracted the virus and required hospitalization, a rate of just 0.003%.

Marin County has identified 76 breakthrough cases to date, Santora said, but none of them have become so ill as to need to be hospitalized.

"A vaccine does not provide a forcefield," she said. "If you're exposed to someone who's coughing with COVID-19, that virus is going to get into your system and start replicating. Your body is ready to respond ... but if you're vaccinated, that's going to happen much more quickly."

Comments

The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2021 at 2:40 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2021 at 2:40 pm

1. Thank you to the Bay Area health officials for fighting the good fight with their messaging about getting vaccinated and also thank you to the Weekly for consistently publishing this information. I think at this point everyone is pretty much aware that life saving vaccines are now widely available and that there is currently a potentially more dangerous and more transmissible variant circulating in communities. Unfortunately we have people still waiting to see how the whole vaccine thing shakes out even after a year with the vaccines and nearly 330 million vaccine doses given in the United States alone. If you are vaccine hesitant remember you can put the parking brake on a car pointing down hill for as long as you want but as soon as you let up it will start rolling downhill again. Or for folks who have problems getting the point of the car-parked-on-a-hill analogy, let's try another one: Hold a beach ball underwater as long as you want, and as soon as you let go it will surge upwards. The point is that the end state will be the same and all you have to decide is how long you want to waste either parked on the hill or holding a beach ball under water. In other words you might be wasting time not getting vaccinated and in the process putting yourself in danger. 156 million Americans are fully vaccinated! Let’s keep going!

2. According to state data, only 584 of the more than 20 million vaccinated people in California have contracted the virus and required hospitalization, a rate of just 0.003%.
Whenever I see this kind of data I am just amazed. It’s really just staggering how effective these vaccines turned out to be in the real world. Thank you to the scientists for producing these amazing vaccines and thank you to our great President Biden for fixing the empty shell known as “Operation Warp Speed” and actually getting these vaccines distributed and made available to U.S. citizens at a rate no other country has even come close to matching.


Byron Johnston
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2021 at 3:10 pm
Byron Johnston, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2021 at 3:10 pm

- and thank you to our great President Biden for fixing the empty shell known as “Operation Warp Speed”

And thank you to former President Trump who initiated Project Warp Speed in order to address the emerging pandemic in America.

While President Biden may receive all of the credit, it took considerable time to develop these vaccines and to ensure the public of their overall safety and potential efficacies.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2021 at 3:41 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2021 at 3:41 pm

“And thank you to former President Trump who initiated Project Warp Speed”

He initiated the program and did provide funding and cut some red tape while the scientists developed it. He had no further national plan to distribute the vaccine. Hence why I called it an “empty shell.”
Web Link />
A lot of supporters of Trump like to promote Operation Warp Speed as a great accomplishment of his Presidency, without any nuance. Yes I agree, to a certain extent, that OPS was an accomplishment of the former administration. But still with that one success it’s hard to overlook all of Trump’s other blatant lies and missteps in handling the pandemic:

Web Link />
My two “favorites” from the link:

When: Thursday, February 27, 2020
The claim: The outbreak would be temporary: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”

When: Friday, April 24, 2020
The claim: Trump was being “sarcastic” when he suggested in a briefing on April 23 that his medical experts should research the use of powerful light and injected disinfectants to treat COVID-19

Classic. He did accomplish a lot of golf though!
Congratulations!

“President Donald Trump has spent 307 days, almost a full year, golfing during his presidency. The total is likely to be the most golf outings of any president in history. Additionally, Trump is likely to be collectively viewed by historians as one of the worst presidents in American history.”

Web Link />
Please educate yourself on how many lives could have been potentially saved if Trump hadn’t reacted so ineptly:

Web Link


Byron Johnston
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2021 at 3:53 pm
Byron Johnston, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2021 at 3:53 pm

- "Additionally, Trump is likely to be collectively viewed by historians as one of the worst presidents in American history.”

While Trump certainly won't go down as one of the best presidents of all time, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic-related tragedies severely hindered any chances of him getting re-elected.

Someday Trump will be recognized by historians for two things... his constructive and austere stance against the likes of China and Iran, both of whom will NEVER be global friends of America.

And by severely restricting travel from China in 2020, he saved many lives that may have perished due to Covid-19.

With the Delta variant now making its rounds, international travel into the United States should be rescinded for the time being.

Any potential or wishful visitors from abroad can use ZOOM instead.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2021 at 4:24 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2021 at 4:24 pm

I totally disagree. If you are talking about how Trump will be remembered by history or in the history books in the future that the children will read in school, he will be remembered mostly as the only President to be impeached twice. Just like people learned in schools that Andrew Johnson was the only impeached President(before Bill Clinton). Next, I think he will also be remembered as a one term President. I think he will also be remembered for losing the popular vote twice. Finally, I think he will also be remembered for lying about election fraud and inciting an insurrection. The small things he did like cutting off travel or his stance on China and Iran will probably not jump off the page. In other words, history will not be kind to “the former guy” Trump.


Priscilla Watson
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 3, 2021 at 5:03 pm
Priscilla Watson, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2021 at 5:03 pm

Having listened to my share of presidents from JFK through Obama, all I can say is that Donald Trump was the least eloquent compared to any of his predecessors.

No diplomacy, no tact, simple phrasings, along with an ongoing sense of anger and ridicule towards his adversaries were Trump oratorical trademarks.

It's no wonder he attracted the vote and ardent admiration from a supportive voting bloc that Hillary Clinton once referred to as 'the deplorables'.


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