Local health experts speak out about the new Delta COVID variant on the rise across the nation


Across the nation COVID cases are on the rise. One variant is now accounting for more than 80% of those cases.

COVID vaccination efforts are continuing nationwide and local health experts are still encouraging members of the Erie community to receive one.

Here is how to protect yourself from these variants.

The Delta variant is spreading across the nation. Health experts say that in addition to getting vaccinated, it is important to get tested for COVID.

Despite mitigation efforts being lifted, COVID cases are still present in Erie County. Local health experts said that the Delta variant is taking a toll on other cities.

“Our numbers have been fairly low. We’ve been on a steady decline since the spring which has been great. I think we’re all a little cautious and concerned about the Delta variant coming in the area and being able to spread rapidly like we’ve seen in other cities,” said Emily Shears, Epidemologist at UPMC Hamot.

Another health expert said that Erie could be more susceptible to the Delta variant.

“With the transmutability of it I think spreading in populations where the vaccination rate is low is going to allow it to jump to the next low vaccination rate area very quickly. So that’s something we should be concerned about cases. Our vaccination rates are still probably not what they should be,” said Jaime Babiak, Director of Operations at LECOM Institution for Successful Aging.

The best practices for protecting yourself from COVID can also be used to mitigate the spread of variants of the virus.

“Vaccination is the number one layer of protection. Masking adds a further layer of protection that we know works very effectively and then people really need to apply a level of risk. So if I’m going to going in doors with someone who might be high risk, I would want to wear a mask. I’d want to be vaccinated,” said Shears.

Shears said the COVID virus will be similar to influenza.

“It’s usually always going to be present in the community at some level and there maybe times whether sicklier or seasonal that we see an increase over time whether that can be certain times of the years or new strains,” said Shears.

Health experts said that if you are skeptical about getting the vaccine, you may want to consider those most vulnerable including the elderly, and children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

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