The Delta variant of SARS CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. and in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Department of Health reports a surge in COVID-19 cases among people who are not yet fully vaccinated and an elevated risk of exposure for all people in Louisiana, especially those who are not yet fully vaccinated.
What do we know about the Delta variant, and what can we do to protect ourselves and others?
Q: What is a variant?
A: Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.
Q: What do we know about the Delta variant?
A: Delta variant is more than 2x as transmissible as the original strains of COVID-19. It's causing large, rapid increases in infections that are compromising the capacity of healthcare systems to provide care to the communities they serve.
While vaccination reduces one’s chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, those who do become infected with the Delta variant despite being fully vaccinated are at risk of transmitting it to others. Vaccinated individuals who do become infected with the Delta variant have similar viral loads as unvaccinated individuals who become infected, meaning they can also transmit the virus to others.
Q: Why is the Delta variant more dangerous than the others?
A: The Delta variant is the most transmissible variant yet. It’s faster, fitter, and it’s now the dominant COVID strain in the country and Louisiana. If you’re unvaccinated, you are the most vulnerable to this dangerous strain. The overwhelming number of cases and hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals. According to the CDC, over 97 percent of people who are entering the hospital right now are unvaccinated. If you’re vaccinated, you have very good (but not absolute) protection against severe outcomes - hospitalization and death.
Q: If I am vaccinated, do I need to worry about the Delta variant?
A: The COVID vaccines offer protection against the Delta variant, but vaccinated residents can still pass the virus to vulnerable groups and those who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated individuals represent a very small number of those hospitalized with COVID around the country.
Q: Where can I receive a vaccine?
The vaccine is available at over 1,400 providers across Louisiana, including LCMC Health and its member hospitals (6). Providers include national and independent pharmacies, public health providers, clinics and physician offices, hospitals and others. For vaccine information or to schedule an appointment with a local provider, call 855-453-0774 (statewide number) or 504.290.5200 (LCMC Health vaccine hotline).
Q: What else can I do to stay safe?
• If you can do an activity outdoors instead of indoors, do it outdoors
• Follow good hygiene practices (wash your hands vigorously & frequently, & don’t touch your face)
• Stay away from crowded settings
• Work virtually if possible
• If you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19, get tested immediately
• If you’re in an at-risk group, be extra careful