“Closer to the end of this pandemic than the beginning”: Mayo expert on delta variant, vaccines
Of the more than 3 million Minnesotans who have completed their vaccine series, fewer than 6,000 have been infected with COVID-19. The low rate of breakthrough cases is why one Mayo Clinic doctor says we already have what we need to return to life as normal.
MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - COVID-19 cases are up across the state. The Minnesota Department of Health says 333 residents are currently hospitalized. That includes 92 in the ICU -- the highest number since May.
”As we look to the next few weeks, the delta variant surge is far from behind us, and is likely to continue to accelerate, particularly in communities with low vaccination rates,” Dr. John O’Horo, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases and critical care expert, said. “What we’ve seen in other countries is it seems to hit fast and hard, so this peak will likely come in the next several weeks, and then we’ll see a period of rapid decline.”
Dr. O’Horo points to one promising sign of local and national COVID-19 case rates: waves of the delta variant are ebbing and flowing consistently with the rate of local vaccinations, which he says means the vaccine is working.
“Mitigation patterns like masking also did show a strong correlation with previous waves where they were extensively studied,” he said.
Transmissibility is the most visible difference between the delta and alpha variants of COVID, according to Dr. O’Horo, and is why he says the summer case decline we saw in 2020 likely won’t happen this summer.
“There is a role of temperature and seasonality and people being outdoors, but it appears that with delta, the increased transmissibility overcomes some of that,” Dr. O’Horo said.
Outbreaks of the delta variant are popping up in regions across the country that have recently hosted large gatherings. On Tuesday, organizers of Milwaukee’s Summerfest say a COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result will now be required to attend.
And closer to home, coronavirus mitigation efforts could be coming to the Minnesota State Fair.
The Star Tribune reports that state fair organizers say mask-wearing *could be required for indoor attractions on the fairgrounds, but no decision has yet been reached on the 12-day event that attracts more than 2 million people every year.
“The general guidance that’s being given by state and local public health authorities has always been fairly consistent about trying to maintain masking where appropriate,” Dr. O’Horo said. “And again, it may be a little late for this fair, but when we look ahead to any type of gatherings that are going to be held this fall, the more people who are vaccinated, the less severe the risk will be for these types of events.”
Of the more than 3 million Minnesotans who have completed their vaccine series, fewer than 6,000 have been infected with COVID-19. 514 have resulted in hospitalization. This low rate of breakthrough cases is why Dr. O’Horo says we already have what we need to return to life as normal.
“With the vaccine, we really do have light at the end of this particular tunnel and are closer to the end of this pandemic than the beginning,” he said.
Minnesota’s breakthrough cases represent about 0.2% of the state’s fully vaccinated population.
On Tuesday, the state reported 1,690 new cases of the coronavirus and seven new deaths.
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