The delta variant of the COVID-19 is causing governments and employers to rethink current protocols.
Viruses evolve over time, F. Perry Wilson, M.D., a Yale Medicine epidemiologist says in an article on yalemedicine.com, but the speed at which this variant is spreading is unique.
So the question is will we need to go back to wearing masks, social distancing and limiting group size?
Dr. Fauci says, according to AP, that even those vaccinated might be advised to wear masks. And those with suppressed immune systems might need to have a booster shot.
The question of “breakthrough infection” for those vaccinated is being closely examined. In an article on ABC News on July 26, Dr. John Brownstein, the chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital, said, “While anecdotal cases and clusters can conjure concern around the vaccine when put in the larger context of how many people have been vaccinated and the sheer volume of cases in the unvaccinated population, we recognize that the vaccines are working and how rare breakthroughs actually are.”
And that raises the question of those who are unvaccinated. At this point in time, according to AP, 49% or 163 million people are fully vaccinated.
So will that population spread the new variant? And if so, what should be done?
Bloomberg reported on July 24 that public-health experts are pushing for the CDC to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear face masks in public amid the resurgence of virus cases fed by the delta variant. This is due to the fact, as reported by Bloomberg, that COVID fatalities in the U.S. surged 48% over the past week to a daily average of 239. The CDC says the delta variant now makes up 83% of all sequenced COVID-19 cases in the U.S., up from 50% at the beginning of the month.
In answer to this increase, some cities are already taking action. Los Angeles County now requires all residents, vaccinated or not, to wear masks in public, as daily case counts have risen 80% from the previous week.
On July 26, the city of Savannah reinstated its face mask mandate, and Chicago is considering it as well. And on July 27, Georgia reinstated its indoor mask requirement.
Also on July 26, New York City is requiring all city workers to either get vaccinated or they will be tested weekly. California is going the same route for its state employees and healthcare workers,
At the federal level, according to an article on NPR, "Secretary of Veteran Affairs Denis McDonough said the department will require front-line health care workers to get vaccinated in the next two months. It will be the first government agency to set such a mandate.”
And weighing in on the issue, a group of medical professionals released a statement calling for all healthcare and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
With all of this activity, non-medical companies will need to adjust, yet again, how to keep their employees safe from this new variant.