First detected in India, the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus is a spike protein mutation that can spread faster and exhibit different symptoms than COVID-19.
In the two weeks leading up to June 5, the CDC estimated that the Delta variant was responsible for nearly 10% of US infections. Dr. Anthony Fauci called Delta the country’s “greatest threat” in its battle against the coronavirus.
This threat, however, is preventable. Research on Delta in the United Kingdom has shown high levels of defense from two doses of the vaccines used, with effectiveness against hospitalization exceeding 90% for both Delta and Alpha, according to Public Health England.
As masks come off and events open, one may ask how we can protect communities and the unvaccinated with the seemingly ignored threat of the Delta variant.
It is important to remember that being fully vaccinated means it has been two weeks or longer since you finished your vaccine series. That gives you the freedom to safely engage in some social situations without wearing a mask or practicing physical distancing indoors or outdoors.
Keeping your guard up in the fight against the virus and its variants also includes approaching hurricanes and severe storms differently. Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medical supplies. Shopping online is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies, although that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to protect your and others’ health when running essential errands. Overall, keep in mind that your planning may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 virus and its variants.
Another way to look out for your community is if you are experiencing a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing, think of calling ahead before visiting a medical office. That allows healthcare providers to reduce the risk of the virus spreading to others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has essentially approved the removal of the mask mandate for vaccinated Americans. Dr. Michele Benoit-Wilson, an OB-GYN with WakeMed Health in Raleigh, North Carolina, said that because of this, uncertainty exists about who has been vaccinated. Therefore, it’s important that Black Americans continue to stay diligent to stay safe and healthy this summer and beyond.
“I personally think that continuing to mask is very important when you’re in public spaces where you do not know that everyone has been vaccinated, especially if those spaces are indoors,” said Dr. Benoit-Wilson. “We know the Delta variant is more contagious and can be transmitted outdoors. I think as the science and information evolve, we have to be very cautious. And if we lead with taking care of our neighbors, I think we’ll make the right decisions.”
The end of this 16-month pandemic is in sight. We will make it through COVID-19 if our Black communities continue to get vaccinated and follow the safety precautions that have proved to be effective. Together, we can do this!
For more information about vaccination sites in your area, go to <www.vaccines.gov>.
(Josephine Reid is a member of the Public Relations Team at Creative Marketing Resources, a strategic marketing agency in Milwaukee.)