Hamilton health commissioner warns about still-present COVID-19 and Delta variant

Kay Farrar urges people to get vaccines to help prevent breeding of new coronavirus variants

People are becoming more relaxed about COVID-19, but Hamilton Health Commissioner Kay Farrar this week urged residents to be vaccinated to help prevent creation of new “variants” of the disease.

One variant is 60 percent more contagious than the original coronavirus, she said.

Parents of children under age 12, who cannot be vaccinated, “should be vigilant as adults, and protect those children from the unvaccinated population,” she said.

Meanwhile, one long-term health care facility in Hamilton has 15 residents or staff sick with the virus “and true to form, 80 percent of those sick are unvaccinated,” she said, with others having received one shot out of two.

Five more Butler County residents died from the virus in the past two weeks, raising the total to 606. In Hamilton, 151 have died, including one the past two weeks — an unvaccinated man in his early 70s.

The “Delta variant,” which originated in India, is “60 percent more contagious than the original COVID-19,” Farrar said. ”And it’s more severe in nature than Alpha, which is the UK (United Kingdom) variant.”

People in the United States now being hospitalized with the Delta strain “are a lot younger and a lot sicker,” Farrar said.

Farrar said there now is a newer variant in India called “Delta plus,” which seems to be more transmissible than Delta.

The Delta form is rapidly spreading in this country, partly because people with it have higher loads of the virus and carry the disease longer. “Therefore, they shed more virus, and they shed it longer,” Farrar said.

She urged everyone to get vaccinated to help prevent new variants.

“When you’re an unvaccinated individual, if the virus comes into your body, it’s the perfect place for it to replicate and cause more problems with this pandemic,” Farrar said. “So we really have to continue to encourage people to open their hearts and get vaccinated, not necessarily for themselves, but their family members and society.”

City health staff, which has vaccinated almost 20,000 people, is focusing on vaccinating the most susceptible groups of people, and going weekly to the Butler County jail. The staff also goes to Serve City, the Salvation Army, New Life Mission and Center Haven.

They also give shots to homebound people who are referred by the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio. Homebound people who need shots or those referring others can call 513-785-7091 or 513-785-7092.

Studies have found the Pfizer vaccine is 88 percent effective against the Delta variant if the person is fully vaccinated two weeks before coming in contact with it. It’s only 33.5 percent effective for those who have received only one shot. Moderna’s shot has similar results. There aren’t yet results for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Butler County so far has had 39,066 cases of the virus, which climbed by 252 in the past two weeks, about double the new cases from the prior two weeks.

“So we are seeing an uptick,” Farrar said.

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