No cases of the COVID-19 delta mutation have been identified in Nueces County, but the strain may have recently increased the number of people hospitalized for the disease.
The risk of highly contagious variants is exacerbated by the number of unvaccinated people, Public Health Director Annette Rodriguez told the Caller Times.
The strain, which first appeared in India and spread to more than 100 countries, has become the predominant mutant strain in the United States and around the world. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, this variant has spurred a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases. The national average of new cases this week (23,600 per day) is more than double the number in late June.
From late May to late June, the number of COVID-19 patients admitted in Nueces County did not exceed 31. On June 8th and June 9th, there were only 18 people. The number of people in the intensive care unit was almost in the single digits during that period.
However, since July, the number of hospitalized patients has steadily increased. The health district reported 57 hospitalizations on Thursday. There are 17 people in ICU.
The July 4 rally and summer trip also contributed to the increase in cases and hospitalizations. According to Rodriguez, contact tracing shows many residents traveling internationally, including Africa.
“We haven’t identified the delta variant here in Nueces County yet, but I think it’s very close to identifying it,” Rodriguez said.
According to Rodriguez, 2,000 test samples were sequenced across the state during the final week of June, with the major variant being Delta.
The health district sends only a small portion of the COVID-19 test sample to the laboratory for genome sequencing, a process that can identify virus strains. Recently, the health district sent about three samples a week to reduce testing.
The low sample size of the Nueces County sequenced may be the reason why the delta case was not detected.
In some labs it takes 4 weeks for the results to be returned. The health district sends most of the samples to Texas Tech University in Lubbock because the lab takes the fastest time, two weeks.
Rodriguez is worried that potential delta cases appear to be resistant to effective monoclonal antibody treatment in most COVID-19 patients. These treatments consist of “cocktails” of antibodies, and doctors are experimenting with different combinations to combat Delta’s case.
“It’s very worrisome for me and my colleagues in the hospital,” she said. “We feel like the first thing again. We’re scrambling to figure out what works …. Delta is getting harder and harder.”
About 40% of Nueces County’s population is vaccinated against the virus. Weekly growth in vaccination has slowed significantly.
According to Rodriguez, nearly 100% of hospital COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. “Very few” are groundbreaking examples of vaccinated people.
Unvaccinated patients said they couldn’t avoid it, others thought they should be vaccinated first, or they didn’t need the vaccine because they were healthy and strong.
“There’s nothing about this being strong,” Rodriguez added, adding that some hospitalized people did not have a chronic medical condition.
“This is about a virus that knows how to hijack the system and works hard to kill you.”
Many civilians have accepted that the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions has clearly returned to normal, but people still need to be careful, Rodriguez said.
She urged people to wear face masks in crowded environments, even outdoors, if not fully vaccinated. Partial vaccination is less effective against the virus, so this includes people who have only been vaccinated twice.
She advised fully vaccinated people with weakened immunity to wear masks, including older people.
“Once again, in the local area, we wear masks when we enter a crowded environment,” said Rodriguez, who was completely vaccinated. We’re seeing an increase and want to protect ourselves, but we want the community to do the same. “
Rodriguez says people who get vaccinated and get sick are less likely to go to the hospital with serious symptoms. Just put on a mask and don’t get it. “
Also, if the virus cannot replicate, it will not mutate and become contagious or deadly. Health experts say that the most effective way to stop the vaccine in that trajectory is to get vaccinated.
According to Rodriguez, there was a recent outbreak at a church camp in the county. In the latest, all infected people were not vaccinated — they were all over 12 years old, which means they are eligible for shots.
According to Rodriguez, the health district contacted the church to provide the vaccine, with some refusing.
“We are really here to help. That’s all we want to do,” she said. “So it’s interesting that people of all disciplines fight us to help get this vaccine.”
Vicky Camarillo covers issues across Nueces County and the state. See subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe..
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