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'It’s a concern but it’s not unexpected' | What UC Davis Health wants you to know about the Delta variant

UC Davis Medical Center had less than 10 patients with COVID-19 on any given day in June, but now with the Delta variant, it's ranging from 18-25 patients daily.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With an increase in COVID-19 cases locally and nationally, UC Davis health experts are concerned a new surge could happen in the Sacramento area with there being a low vaccination rate.

In a press release from UC Davis Health, it was pointed out that the UC Davis Medical Center had less than 10 patients with COVID-19 on any given day in June, but now with the Delta variant, patient numbers are ranging from 18-25 patients daily. Health experts don't believe those case numbers will fall anytime soon.

“The substantial increases in COVID-19 cases are consistent with a fourth surge largely, if not entirely, driven by unvaccinated people and not masking,” Natascha Tuznik, associate clinical professor of infectious diseases at UC Davis Health, explained in the press release.

UC Davis health experts are warning people that the Delta variant should be taken seriously. 

In Yolo County, the more contagious variant now makes up 85% of new COVID-19 cases, consistent with national figures.

"The vast majority of of hospitalizations are in unvaccinated persons, and that's why we're emphasizing that everyone protects themselves against the Delta variant...," said Dr. Aimee Sisson, Yolo County Public Health Officer.

Here are eight things people should know about the variant, according to the experts.

The Delta variant is highly contagious

The CDC said that this variant accounts for 83% of the new COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Symptoms are the same, but more younger people are getting it

Christian Sandrock, director of critical care at UC Davis Medical Center, said they aren't seeing more severe symptoms, but the people going to the hospital for the virus are around the ages of 30 to 50.

Experts also said that the Delta variant spreads to the respiratory tract quicker.

Delta is hitting the unvaccinated

"The Delta variant in the U.S. is affecting for the most part the unvaccinated,” Lorena Garcia, professor of epidemiology in the Department of Public Health Sciences, said in the press release. “That is different than the surges in winter or early spring when the vaccine was not available to everyone. Now when you combine being unvaccinated with not wearing masks and no social distancing, you see this surge during the summer.”

Those hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center are mostly unvaccinated. The press release data shows that areas with lower vaccination rates tend to have higher COVID-19 infection rates.

Vaccinated people can still get COVID-19, but it is rare

Most of the cases for those who are vaccinated, also known as breakthrough cases, are mild and don't result in hospitalization or death, according to the press release.

They said that the majority of cases in vaccinated people feel like a cold, with a loss of smell.

Many UC Davis Health patients wish they got vaccinated

“A number of younger patients, when they come in to us, critically ill, they start saying ‘I should have gotten the vaccine',” Sandrock said in the release.

The Delta Variant could be "catastrophic" in some communities

UC Davis experts said that the variant could be very bad for communities with lower vaccination rates, especially rural areas with limited access to medical care.

“It could be extremely devastating,” Garcia said.

Some are still masking up after getting vaccinated

“I’m fully vaccinated and I still wear a mask at the grocery store or even outdoors in a crowded situation like at the farmer’s market, because many unvaccinated people are choosing to go unmasked and I’m not comfortable with that,” Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, explained in the release.

Delta will not be the last variant

While the Delta variant is the dominant variant in the U.S. right now, it likely won't be the last one. Sandrock said South America is seeing a Lambda variant of the virus.

"If people want to get back to normal, they need to get vaccinated. As long as a good chunk of people are unvaccinated, in the world, we’re just going to continue having new strains come along that are going to cause these periods where we’ll have to go back and forth to a modified life," Sandrock said.

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