COVID-19: “Delta spreads like wildfire”
“Delta spreads like wildfire. But vaccines contain that fire and will eventually help to put it out. For now, our shared goal must be to vaccinate everyone and avoid breeding vaccine discontentment. Vaccines continue to be the surest bet to keep people out of hospitals, ICUs and the obituary pages.”
“Delta is different. Delta is more infectious than prior strains. It evades the immune system more effectively than prior strains, and it may even cause more severe disease than prior strains. And this is because the Delta variant fundamentally arrives at much higher levels of virus in the nose and the throat than previous strains.
“So if you imagine, you’re sitting next to me, I have Delta. And I am breathing that out through the air, those Delta virus particles. If I am sending out a thousand times more virus particles into the air than I would have with an earlier strain, you’re way more likely to get that. If I have more Delta virus in my body, it’s more likely to make me sicker. There’s just a lot more of those virus particles fighting my body and making me sick.
“And as I mentioned also, the Delta variant does evade our immune defenses. Especially if you had a natural infection and we’re counting on that immunity to protect you, that just does not seem to be robust immunity against the Delta variant.”
Question: I’ve seen the estimate that people can have a thousand times the viral load with Delta. Is that accurate?
“That is accurate. And I think another way of framing this is in terms of time because we think of exposure is dose times time. So when the CDC, at the beginning of the pandemic, said 15 minutes indoors with somebody without a mask, that’s a close contact, if you’re looking at a thousand times the amount of virus in somebody’s nose and throat today versus what you would have seen at the beginning of the pandemic, that 15 minutes is now the equivalent today of one second. That does not mean in 15 minutes, you would have gotten infected at the beginning of the pandemic. That does not mean that one second today means you’re infected. But that does constitute a close contact today and does constitute a real risk today.”
This article, “What does the Delta variant mean for you? It’s time to put back on your mask!” shows me that the only way out of the surge of the Delta variant is getting vaccination rates up to 75% or more.
Written by an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.
In the Marigny neighborhood, eight out of 25 staffers at the Paladar 511 restaurant tested positive for the coronavirus earlier in the summer. All but one were vaccinated.
“That was kind of just an eye-opening thing,” said Emma Jane Kulowski, 26, the restaurant’s manager. “It was a little bit disheartening after so long being cautious and trying to do the right thing, even without clear guidance.”
After a costly shutdown, the restaurant reopened with a big supply of at-home rapid tests and masks required for even vaccinated staffers. Because of the summer heat, Paladar has held out on bringing back outdoor seating like what it offered during earlier waves, but locals have been asking for the option as cases surge.
According to the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, created by scientists who advise the CDC, cases aren’t likely to peak until sometime in mid-September.
“It’s very likely that cases will continue to increase over the next several weeks,” said Rebecca Borchering, a researcher with the modeling team at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s unlikely to make a sharp downturn without any large change in behavior, either through vaccination or masking or social distancing or some other intervention.”
Bassist George Porter Jr. is in favor of any safety measures to keep the music playing and patrons safe, including the requirement for proof of vaccines or a negative test.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Porter said. “I don’t know why nobody thought of it sooner. It seems like everybody’s been running off the fact that people will do the right thing, but still over 50% of the population is not vaccinated” in Louisiana.
If infection rates don’t go back down, Porter said, “I’m prepared to stay home for the next year.”
On social media, the requirements announced by New Orleans businesses have drawn a mix of fury and praise.
But at the businesses themselves, the customers actually turning up have largely been prepared to follow the rules.
“We’ve gotten some hate messages on Facebook, but those aren’t our customers anyway,” said Craig Nero, owner of Who Dat Coffee Café in the Faubourg Marigny, which began its requirement policy this week.