Update on COVID-19 and Delta variant (Opinion)
Lake Tahoe, like communities across the country, is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections; though infection-related illness and hospitalizations remain overwhelmingly harder on one group of people: those who have yet to be vaccinated.
The much more infectious Delta variant is spreading rapidly within our community. Public health experts estimate that this strain is two-to-six times more contagious than the strain of COVID-19 that hit the U.S. in 2020. With the Delta variant, there is significantly more of the virus in each droplet expelled into the air from an infected person’s respiratory tract, and more virus in a droplet means a better chance of infecting someone else. Wearing a mask significantly reduces the chance these droplets reach another person.
As a result of the increased contagiousness, there is also an increase in “breakthrough” cases among vaccinated people. Even with breakthrough cases, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to show vaccinated people are less likely to get as sick as the unvaccinated, and when they do, most experience mild-moderate symptoms. Additionally, with more breakthrough cases, the virus is spreading from both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
And while vaccinated people may still experience COVID infections, virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among those who cannot, have not or will not get the vaccine. While COVID-19 once seemed to target older people, community members and visitors of all ages are now being infected, including children too young to receive the vaccine.
Over the past two weeks, El Dorado and Douglas counties have seen a 139% and 350% increase in COVID infections, respectively. This trend is also affecting the workforce both here at Barton as well as at other local businesses. With county vaccination rates at approximately 50% and South Lake Tahoe even lower, we are likely to continue to see spread until more people receive the vaccine.
It’s not too late to get a COVID-19 vaccine — they are readily available at local pharmacies as well as at Barton primary care offices, and continue to be the best protection against severe illness and hospitalization.
It’s challenging to go through wave after wave of infections, but until we reach herd immunity and the virus cannot continue to mutate, this will be the new normal. COVID-19 will keep evolving, likely growing stronger and infecting those who are most vulnerable.
It’s critically important for us all to once again, do what we know works: get vaccinated, and regardless of whether you are or not, wear a mask. This will help protect others, slow the spread and minimize additional restrictions for our schools, businesses and daily lives.
Dr. Rhonda Sneeringer is the medical director of outpatient COVID-19 care and the director of pediatrics at Barton Memorial Hospital. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit BartonHealth.org/CoronaVirus.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Several weeks ago this column addressed Senate Bills 9 and 10, both of which deal with the controversial issue of housing policy and, more specifically, density of housing. Taxpayer advocates and neighbor associations have opposed…