The Delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says is as contagious as chickenpox, does not care if you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated. Once you’re infected, this COVID-19 variant produces similar amounts of virus regardless of your vaccination status. So even if you’re fully vaccinated, you can easily transmit it to someone who isn’t.
“It’s not like all of a sudden, ‘Oh, it’s like the chickenpox now and I need to get a vaccine, I need to get a mask,'” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford HealthCare’s System Director of Infection Disease and Chief Epidemiologist, at a media briefing Monday afternoon. “That should have been going on this entire time. I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but if we don’t get this under control, there’s another Greek letter coming down the road beyond Delta.”
Here are some updates as the Delta variant spreads through the state:
Seven of Connecticut’s Eight Counties at ‘Substantial’ Transmission Levels
Litchfield County is the state’s only county averaging fewer than 50 COVID cases the past seven days per 100,000 people, according to CDC data. The agency defines moderate transmission as 10 to 49 cases per 100,000 people or an 5 percent to 8 percent positivity rate. The remaining seven counties qualify as substantial transmission: 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 people or an 8 percent to 9.9 percent positivity rate.
“This remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Wu. “For those who are vaccinated, even though there are still breakthrough cases, and even though there are still some hospitalizations and maybe some ventilators and ICU stays required, for the most part the majority are among the unvaccinated.”
The CDC recommends masks indoors in any substantial-level county.
Tracking the Spike in Statewide Transmission, County by County
Here are the seven-day moving averages for each county this year through July, with the cases and percent change in the past seven days. (Data provided by the CDC.)
New Haven County
New London County
State Department of Public Health Recommends Masks Indoors
The state DPH followed the CDC’s recent guidance update when it “strongly recommend” Sunday all state residents age 2 and older wear masks indoors. Newington, Norwich and New London, among others, are now requiring masks in all town or city buildings. Yale University is again requiring masks indoors and outdoors at large gatherings.
But a return to a statewide mandate?
“Mandates are really hard,” said Dr. James Cardon, Hartford HealthCare’s Chief Clinical Integration Officer, “especially when you have a whole bunch of vaccinated people . . . that’s going to be a touchy message. You have to do a risk assessment of where you are, what environment you’re in and who you’re putting at risk.”
State health officials also recommend people, regardless of vaccination status, with diabetes, compromised immune systems, obesity, asthma or pregnant to avoid any indoor gathering with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
“We have almost 650,000 people dead in our country,” said Dr. Wu. “I think that’s enough to say that the coronavirus in general is pretty darn dangerous. It’s pretty darn contagious.”
More Companies Requiring Vaccine for Employees
Hartford HealthCare joined other health systems across the state last month in adopting a recommendation by the Connecticut Hospital Association to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees.
Nationally, companies that have announce vaccine requirements for at least some of their employees:
- BlackRock investment management.
- Morgan Stanley.
- Goldman Sachs.
- Saks Fifth Avenue.
“It should be a very scary time for individuals that are unvaccinated,” said Keith Grant, APRN, Hartford HealthCare’s Senior Director of Infection Prevention.