COVID-19 Delta variant cases are currently hitting California hard. Counties in the Bay Area just reinstated a mask mandate. Are we in for another round of quarantines?
What we know
COVID-19 cases have ramped up in California, specifically the Delta variant strand — which is more contagious and pervasive than its predecessor. Originating in India, the Delta variant (also known as B.1.617.2) now makes up 83% of all current COVID-19 cases country-wide in the U.S., and nearly 97% of cases in the U.K. Although there are similar symptoms to the alpha strain of COVID-19, it remains deadly and more likely to lead to hospitalization — especially in younger demographics.
But, the Delta variant isn't the only COVID-19 strain to lookout for. A surge of the Delta plus variant (also known as B.1.617.2.1) has been spotted, possibly a more insidious strain than even the regular Delta variant. Other variants to keep an eye on are Kappa (B.1.617.1) and Lambda (C.37).
The World Health Organization recently listed the Kappa and Lambda variants (among others) as Variants of Interest (VOI), which are defined as variants that can affect transmissibility and disease severity. The Kappa variant was first documented in Uttar Pradesh in October of 2020. The Lambda variant was first recorded in Peru in December 2020 and is considered more contagious than the Alpha or Gamma variants of COVID-19.
How to prepare
Get vaccinated. 52% of Californians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, but the majority of current hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases are amongst the unvaccinated. Several doses have been administered while some have only been partially completed, so make sure to return for your second dose — unvaccinated individuals are about 2.5 times more likely to contract the Delta variant.
While we continue to monitor and learn about the Delta variant, the most important thing you can do to prepare is follow state guidelines and advice from local officials. Continue to take similar measures as you did against the alpha COVID-19 strand:
- Social distance
- Wear a mask
- Wash your hands frequently
- Get tested if you get sick, or exhibit symptoms
- Quarantine if you test positive
The pandemic has been frightening and unsettling for all. As new cases are monitored and studies are conducted, adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines and do your best to practice safe social habits. For more COVID-19 vaccine information, or to schedule a vaccine appointment, visit El Camino's vaccination page.
This article first appeared in the August 2021 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.