Delta variant in Ohio: What you should know

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

As the U.S. enters a summer with fewer restrictions and a return to normalcy, health officials across the world and country are keeping an eye on a coronavirus variant the World Health Organization called “the most transmissible” so far, according to the Associated Press.

The delta variant is spreading throughout the world, with 96 counties, including the U.S., reporting the variant as of June 29, according to WHO. The variant has been detected in Ohio, but compared to other variants tested it makes up less than 1% of cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

ExploreWHO: Delta variant is ‘most transmissible’ identified so far

Here’s what you should know about the delta variant:

What is the delta variant?

Like all viruses, COVID-19 has changed over time, resulting in different variants. The delta is one of four variants listed as a variant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO. The other three variants of concern are alpha, beta and gamma.

The delta variant was first documented in India in October, according to WHO. In the following months, it’s spread to nearly 100 countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada, the U.K., Australia, China and Russia.

WHO designated the delta variant as a variant of concern after receiving evidence that the variant has an increased transmissibility.

Is the delta variant in Ohio?

The state health department reported the delta variant has been detected in Ohio, but is less than 1% of the state’s cases. Information about which counties the variant’s been detected in was not available.

According to the CDC, 19% of the cases reported in Region 5, which includes Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, from June 6-19, were of the delta variant. The alpha variant accounted for 55.5% of cases and the gamma variant accounted for 18.4%

On June 10, ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said he expects the number of cases stemming from the delta variant to increase in Ohio as the rest of the country continues to see more delta cases.

Do the vaccines work against the delta variant?

Of the four variants detected in the U.S., delta, alpha, beta and gamma, not one of them is classified as a variant of high consequence. The CDC defines variants of consequence as variants where there is evidence that prevention measures or medical countermeasures, such as vaccines, have reduced effectiveness.

Vanderhoff said that the vaccines approved in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — all appear to effective against the delta variant.

“It’s the way out of the pandemic,” he said. “It’s out best protection, including against the delta variant.”

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Do vaccinated people need to wear a mask to protect themselves?

With concerns about the contagious delta variant, officials in areas with low vaccination rates are encouraging everyone to wear face masks.

Health officials in Los Angeles are encouraging everyone to wear masks inside regardless of their vaccination status, according to the Associated Press.

Officials from WHO also continued to promote mask wearing for everyone.

However, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it’s up to local officials to set guidelines.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Walensky told “Good Morning America” that the CDC is “still seeing an uptick in cases in areas of low vaccination and in that situation, we are suggesting that policies be made at the local level.”