Local Delta variant cases increase significantly
While the number of positive COVID-19 cases slowed down locally for a few months at the beginning of the summer, the novel coronavirus is picking up steam again in Brown and Nemaha counties.
According to Nemaha County Health Officer Jane Sunderland, the Delta variant is the predominant strain that has been coming back from sequencing for Nemaha County. To date, there have been seven Alpha variants and 16 Delta variants identified in Nemaha County.
Dr. Rachel Allen with Sabetha Family Practice warns citizens that the Delta variant strain is more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain.
“The Delta variant, that is now the predominant strain of COVID in our state and country, is a ‘fitter and faster’ strain of the virus,” Dr. Allen said. “Meaning it is better at infecting people and spreads faster than the original COVID strain. For example, if a person infected with the original COVID virus spread the virus to two people, the Delta variant will likely spread to four people and often with less time of exposure.”
With the Delta variant ramping up, breakthrough cases are starting to occur locally.
“Unfortunately, breakthrough cases, which is the number of COVID infections in vaccinated individuals, have been occurring as our rate of infection in the county has increased,” Dr. Allen said.
According to Sunderland, 19 vaccinated people in Nemaha County have tested positive for COVID-19.
“These breakthrough cases represent less than 1 percent of the total Nemaha County residents that have been fully vaccinated,” Sunderland said. “Most importantly, no severe cases of COVID-19 have been reported in vaccinated people in Nemaha County.”
“Luckily, the data continues to show very low rates of hospitalizations and death in vaccinated people,” Dr. Allen said. “Areas with lower rates of vaccination have shown rapid increase in rates of infections with the Delta variant. Vaccination truly is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
According to Sunderland, Nemaha County Community Health Services has seen a significant increase in people getting vaccinated over the last two weeks.
“Currently, 4,221 Nemaha County residents are fully vaccinated and 50.6 percent of Nemaha County residents age 12 years and older are fully vaccinated, which is the age group eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination,” Sunderland said.
While parents and students start to think about the upcoming school year, Dr. Allen said the best way to prevent infection and transmission of the virus is to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines are now approved for ages 12 and up,” Dr. Allen said. “I would like to reiterate, the vaccine is the best form of protection against the virus and subsequent hospitalizations and death. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also released a recommendation that students should be masking in school this year. This not only protects students and staff, masking will also help keep students in-person for this school year, which we can all agree is the best case scenario. Masking is currently recommended by the CDC [Center for Disease Control] and WHO [World Health Organization] for all people, regardless of vaccination status, in areas of high transmission. Given the present surge of infections in our county, masking is recommended to help decrease transmission of the virus.”
Local Case Data
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nemaha County has had 1,599 positive COVID-19 cases. There are currently 28 active cases, 55 deaths and one hospitalization.
As for Brown County, there has been a total of 1,178 positive cases since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are currently 31 active cases, 32 deaths, and no hospitalizations.
Brown County is reporting four Delta variant cases and two Alpha variant cases.