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Doctor: To stop spread of Delta variant, get vaccinated or just wear a mask

People shop at a grocery store enforcing the wearing of masks in Los Angeles on July 23, 2021. With the Delta variant pushing US Covid cases back up, fully vaccinated people are wondering whether they need to start masking indoors again. Covid vaccines remain extremely effective against the worst outcomes of the disease -- hospitalization and death -- and breakthrough infections remain rare. (Photo by Chris Delmas / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — If you are not vaccinated, at least wear a mask in public to stop the Delta variant from claiming more lives, a Utah doctor strongly stressed.

Due to the surge of the very contagious COVID-19 Delta variant nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Tuesday, advising fully vaccinated people to wear a mask indoors in places of substantial or high transmission.

The CDC reports the level of community transmission in Salt Lake County is high.

Dr. Tamara Sheffield of Intermountain Healthcare joined the Dave & Dujanovic Show to answer questions about the Delta variant and vaccine efficacy.

 

RELATED: Delta variant is taking a toll on the unvaccinated

“In recent days I have seen new scientific data from recent outbreak investigations showing that the Delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a media briefing Tuesday, according to CNN.

It’s rare but . . .

With more than 156 million Americans fully vaccinated, around 153,000 symptomatic breakthrough cases happened last week, representing about 0.098% of people fully vaccinated, according to an unpublished internal CDC document obtained by ABC News.

Why is Delta so dangerous?

Sheffield said the reasons the Delta variant is so infectious is because:

  • It’s twice as transmissible
  • It spreads more easily
  • The incubation period is only four days as compared to six for the original coronavirus
  • A person infected with the Delta variant is able to spread the virus longer and infect more unvaccinated people.

Delta only represented 1% of reported infections on May 13. Now it represents at least 83% of cases, according to the CDC.

Unvaccinated people infected with the Delta variant account for  90% of the cases that Intermountain Healthcare is seeing, said Sheffield.

Vaccines are armor protection

She added that the vaccines are doing their job battling the Delta variant.

Pfizer vaccine has been 88% effective for symptoms of coronavirus and 96% protective against hospitalization.

“We are feeling very confident that those who are vaccinated are going to be well-protected,” Sheffield said.

She added t the virus survives by mutating; it cannot survive nor mutate within a fully vaccinated person.

“So, if we can stop it from infecting you, we stop it from mutating,” Sheffield said.

Vaccine for young kids?

The FDA is indicating that by late summer or early fall a vaccine will likely be available for younger children, Sheffield said.

At least wear a mask

She reminded listeners that the CDC’s policy for the unvaccinated has not changed: Wear a mask if you are indoors with others.

“We need to be responsible, not just for keeping ourselves safe, but for everybody around us, and especially those who are unvaccinated,” Sheffield said.

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Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.