Delta variant causing surge in COVID cases: Here’s what local officials say is the fix

Coronavirus

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TOPEKA (KSNT) – Shawnee County health officials say the county is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases because of the Delta variant and a lack of people getting vaccinated.

Shawnee County Health Officer Dr. Erin Locke said over the last few months, things were starting to get back to normal, but trends have quickly changed. At first, she said the shift in numbers was small, but within the last few weeks, case numbers, and hospitalizations are back on the rise.

Just in the last four days in Shawnee County, there have been 112 positive COVID cases. That’s in comparison to 156 cases for the entire month of June.

Dr. Locke said the sharp uptick in trends is because of the Delta variant, which is up to 60% more contagious than the previous Alpha variant. She said the key to returning back to normal and avoiding any further surge in cases is getting a significant portion of the population vaccinated, which will decrease the chance of the virus spreading.

“We are seeing these cases really only in unvaccinated individuals. Very few have been fully vaccinated,” Dr. Locke said. “So, for individuals who have not yet received their vaccine, the most important thing they can do to protect themselves and their families are to be vaccinated.”

As of Thursday evening, 43% of Shawnee County’s population is fully vaccinated and 47% have had at least their first shot of two doses.

She says those numbers are not enough to slow down the spread of the Delta variant. They’d prefer seeing between 70-90% of the population vaccinated.

Dr. Locke said the county has plenty of shots, vaccine administrators and locations to easily get to that 90% goal. They just need people to sign up. For more information on getting vaccinated, click here.

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