OHIO — Ohio health officials are warning that the more contagious coronavirus Delta variant could become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the state and pose a real risk to the unvaccinated.
Ohio’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said between June 6 and June 19 the state saw about 15 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the state being the Delta variant.
Early data for the time period between June 20 and July 3 show that percentage is expected to substantially increase and “likely double,” Vanderhoff said.
“Delta is a real threat to the unvaccinated,” Vanderhoff said. “Delta is here and it’s rising rapidly.”
Vanderhoff said most people who are vaccinated can still go about their lives as normal.
According to Vanderhoff, the Delta variant is 50 percent more contagious that the UK variant that was a concern earlier this year. For perspective, he added that the UK variant was 50 percent more contagious than the COVID-19 strain that drove the winter spike.
Vanderhoff said those under age 50 are now two times more likely to get COVID-19.
Dr. Andrew Thomas with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said the spread of the Delta variant is driving him to encourage those in the 20-49 age group who are unvaccinated to get the coronavirus vaccine. Thomas said those who have not gotten vaccinated “need to rethink.”
In addition to the spread of the Delta variant, the state said Ohio is beginning to see the early signs of a possible upswing in COVID-19 cases in the state.
Ohio’s hospitalizations hit their lowest point on July 9, when 200 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. The number has started to go up with 264 patients having COVID-19 in Ohio hospitals.
“This is us providing an early warning,” Vanderhoff said. “It’s all the more reason for us to be aware...it will move rapidly through the unvaccinated.”
Thomas said the hospitalizations also appear to be rising in part due to the July 4th holiday.
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