CDC Update on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Delta Variant
The Concord Health Division wants to make residents aware that on July 27, 2021, the CDC issued updated guidance on COVID-19 and the Delta variant of the virus. Key messages in this guidance include:
- Data show the Delta variant is much more contagious than past versions of the virus.
Delta spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another, compared with earlier strains. Individuals infected with the Delta variant tend to have more virus in their respiratory tract than other variants and infected individuals may carry the virus longer. These two factors contribute to the increased transmissibility seen with the Delta variant. According to MDPH, Delta is likely now the most prevalent variant in Massachusetts.
- Some vaccinated people can get Delta in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious.
A COVID cluster in Provincetown that began over the July 4 weekend currently involves 765 cases; approximately 70% of individuals testing positive were fully vaccinated. Most vaccinated people who get the Delta variant become only mildly ill, but it is not yet well understood how contagious these individual may be and the risk they may pose to others.
- Unvaccinated individuals should wear face coverings when in public indoor settings.
- CDC recommends that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, in areas with “Substantial” and “High” COVID transmission rates wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of Delta and protect others. CDC’s county-level map of transmission rates can be used as guidance to determine where people should to be masking indoors even if fully vaccinated. At present in Massachusetts, Middlesex and Norfolk Counties are at “Moderate” Risk; Suffolk, Dukes and Nantucket Counties are at “Substantial” Risk, and Barnstable County is at “High” Risk.
- CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. A list of Massachusetts COVID testing sites can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-testing
- Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
- Unvaccinated individuals should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates. Data demonstrate that the vaccines are preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and are effective against the Delta variant. A list of Massachusetts COVID vaccine sites can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccination-locations