Concerns over spread of Delta variant rise among health officials

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 4:12 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The prevalence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus across the nation, as well as here in Maine, is a primary concern among those fighting the spread of the illness.

“We know the Delta variant is here. We know that the number of cases and people affected by it are absolutely going to increase,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director.

“It can cause the number of viruses in your body up to 1000 times more and therefore it can spread more rapidly, up to 250 times more rapidly it can spread,” said Dr. James Jarvis, Northern Light.

The Maine CDC has found four confirmed cases of the Delta variant. MaineHealth, using a different testing procedure has identified 18.

Jarvis and Shah say that younger, unvaccinated people continue to make up a large section of those needing to be hospitalized.

“Ninety percent of the people in Maine who have died with COVID since June 1 were not fully vaccinated. A while back we pulled the data on people who are being hospitalized. Ninety-four percent of the people who are being hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated. We are all concerned about the Delta variant but the vaccines continue to be effective against it,” Shah said.

Both have concerns that low case numbers are leading people to let their guards down - feeling that if they’ve got this long with getting vaccinated, why do it now?

“As with so many infectious diseases vaccination, the success of vaccination has sowed the seeds of people not believing they need to be vaccinated. Whether it’s measles whether it’s TB or whether now with COVID,” Shah said.

“We all remember that we’ve had certain outbreaks that all of a sudden went from being in one small town in Maine to spreading out across our entire state. We don’t want to see that happen again, so please get vaccinated,” Jarvis said.

“We are getting to a place in the pandemic where a large part of the hospitalizations and deaths are avoidable. So if we are concerned about this the best thing that you can do, all of you who are watching can do is to convince your friends, families and neighbors to go get vaccinated,” Shah said.

Health officials say the state will continue its pop-up coronavirus vaccination clinics through the summer.

The Maine CDC says people age 12 and older can get shots at one of those clinics until at least late August.

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