LA County recommends indoor masks as Delta variant spreads

New York City will NOT go into another lockdown if dangerous Indian Delta variant spreads with Mayor de Blasio declaring that ‘we are winning the race against it’ with nearly 4.6 million New Yorkers vaccinated

  • The mayor cited high vaccination rates in the city, where 56% of residents have received at least one dose
  • The decision to tighten up coronavirus restrictions, however, lies with Gov. Andrew Cuomo 
  • Experts say the vaccines do provide protection against the variant
  • de Blasio’s announcement comes as LA County urged its residents to mask up over fears of the variant 
  • The recommendation comes two weeks after California dropped its mask mandates
  • The highly transmissible variant accounts for 20.6% new cases nationwide 
  • The variant has spread rapidly over the past two months, but still only accounts for 4% of new cases worldwide 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed that New York City will not go into another lockdown despite the spread of the highly transmissible Indian Delta variant, citing high vaccination rates in the city. 

‘We are watching the Delta variant very carefully in this city…We have a lot of information, and we’re obviously watching it around the world but the difference here is a very high level of vaccination,’ he said noting that 4.2 million city residents have been fully vaccinated and another 4.6 million have received one dose.  

‘The bottom line is right now we’re winning the race against the Delta variant, but we’ve gotta keep winning,’ he said. 

DeBlasio’s comments come as the CDC warns the ‘most transmissible’ Covid variant could soon be the dominant version of the virus in the United States, after it quickly spread across at least 12 states, and 85 countries, since it first emerged in India in April.

The decision on whether or not the city goes back into lockdown, however, rests with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and not the mayor, who is reaching the end of his second and final term. 

So far, 51% of New York City residents are vaccinated, with 56% having received one vaccine does, according to the New York City Health Department.    

The Delta variant has quickly spread across the US with Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas especially hard hit

DELTA IN THE US: Delta variant now accounts for one-in-five new coronavirus infections in the United States

DeBlasio’s announcement came as LA residents are being urged to mask up again – two weeks after the county dropped its mask mandate – amid Delta Variant concerns. 

The virus strain has already wreaked havoc in the UK, where post-pandemic reopening has been delayed by the virus after it caused infections to spike 50 percent in one week.

Now there are fears that the US could follow suit, or even go back into lockdown, if the Delta variant takes hold – with states with low vaccination rates particularly vulnerable. 

On Monday, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommended that residents in the county, the most densely populated in the US, start donning masks again to protect against the variant – even as they admitted that fully vaccinated people are at little risk.  

‘While COVID-19 vaccine provides very effective protection preventing hospitalizations and deaths against the delta variant, the strain is proving to be more transmissible and is expected to become more prevalent,’ said Public Health director Barbara Ferrer.

‘Mask wearing remains an effective tool for reducing transmission, especially indoors where the virus may be easily spread through inhalation of aerosols emitted by an infected person.’

In LA county, there have been more than a million cases of Covid-19 and 24,480 deaths, while the Delta variant accounts for 5.7% of new cases in California. 

As of mid June, there were 64 cases of the Delta variant identified in LA County, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.   

Nationally, there have been more than 33million cases of coronavirus – and 604,152 deaths. The highly transmissible variant now accounts for 20.6% or one in five of those new cases.

Overall, there have been a total of 4,305 cases of the Delta variant confirmed in the United States.  

The variant has spread rapidly over the past two months, but still only accounts for four per cent of new cases worldwide.

Considering its rapid spread in other countries particularly in the UK, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the variant could pose a major setback to the US’s efforts to end the pandemic. 

‘Similar to the situation in the UK, the delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19,’ he said on NBC’s Today show last week. 

Many states have only just reopened, with California’s coming after intense pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom to end the mandates.  

LA County’s announcement comes as the CDC noted that Delta variants are now responsible for about one in every five new infections across the country. 

The recommendation falls in line with that of the World Health Organization which announced last week that it wants fully vaccinated people to wear their masks and practice social distancing to protect themselves against the Delta variant.

Dr. Mariangela Simao – WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products – said, ‘Vaccines alone won’t stop community transmission.’

‘People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding,’ Simao said during a press conference from the WHO’s Geneva headquarters 

Current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remains that vaccinated people in certain public indoor settings do not need to be masked.  

Known as B.1.617.2, the Delta variant has been labeled as a ‘double mutant’ by India’s Health Ministry because it carries two mutations: L452R and E484Q.

L452R is the same mutation seen with the California homegrown variant and E484Q is similar to the mutation seen in the Brazilian and South African variants. Both of the mutations occur on key parts of the virus that allows it to enter and infect human cells. 

The variant, known as B.1.617.2, has caused infections in the UK to spike 50% in one week and hospitalizations to rise by 15%

DELTA IN THE UK: variant has been spreading across the world and in the UK in particular, slowing the country’s end of lockdown, and has caused a spike in Covid infections there

DELTA WORLDWIDE: Cases of the Delta variant soared through late spring and early summer

Cases of Covid-19 and the more contagious Delta variant are rising in some parts of the United States, particularly where vaccination rates are low. 

So far the Delta variant has been most prevalent in India and the UK, with it accounting for 31% and 27% of new Covid-19 cases respectively in the countries. 

In the UK, it has delayed reopening plans, as the country sees a spike in infections. 

Weekly Covid deaths went above 100 last week for the first time since May 14, when registrations were delayed because of the bank holiday on Monday May 3.

The ending of most lockdown rules on May 17 coincided with the takeover of the Indian variant.

The variant is also known as the B.1.617.2 strain of the virus (in bright orange). The CDC has warned it could become the dominant strain in the US 

The mask recommendation comes as the Indian Delta variant continues its spread across the world. It still, however, only accounts for 1% of total virus cases in the US

Counties in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming (marked in red) reported between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 in the last week, compared to the national average of 23.9 cases per 100,000 

All five states have fully vaccinated 35% or fewer residents, lower than the national average of 45.6%, and only three counties between the five have fully vaccinated more than 50%

On Monday, the UK recorded 22,868 new coronavirus infections, up from 8,125 recorded on June 11, which at that time had been the highest daily total since Feb. 26.  

But they were still very low compared with the peak of the first and second waves despite surging cases.  

The prevalence of the new variant had led to the UK government pumping the brakes on England’s June 21 Freedom Day. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the numbers were forcing the end of UK lockdowns to be pushed back by four weeks.

Despite the increasing prevalence of the strain over the past two months, infections have been trending down in the US  

CDC will FINALLY label Indian Delta Covid strain as ‘variant of concern’ as the mutant virus scuppers the UK’s reopening plans and leads to fears it could soon swarm the US 

 The Indian ‘Delta’ coronavirus variant will finally be classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Tuesday, the federal health agency plans to upgrade the mutant from ‘variant of interest,’ because of ‘mounting evidence’ that is more contagious than other variants rather than just suspected to be, first reported by Fox News.   

An official told the news organization that the CDC will also announce people that two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer a ‘high degree of protection’ and that people who are not vaccinated ‘are at risk.’   

It comes on the heels of the variant, known as B.1.617. being detected for the first time in Hawaii, health officials revealed on Monday.

The individual, who lives on Oahu, was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and traveled last month to Nevada, where the strain was being reported at the time. 

The mutant strain has been wreaking havoc in the UK, causing infections to spike 50 percent in one week and hospitalizations to rise by 15 percent.  

A recent report from Public Health England (PHE) found that more than 90 percent of virus cases in the country are now linked to the variant.   

Scientists estimate that the Delta variant is between 40 percent and 80 percent transmissible, which has sparked fears that if it has already been detected in multiple U.S. states, a similar outbreak to the one in the UK could be on the horizon.

 The infected person in Hawaii returned to the state after his or her travels with a  negative COVID test, but then began experiencing mild symptoms and later tested positive for the virus, according to the state Department of Health (DOH).

Routine genome sequencing was conducted on samples by the State Laboratories Division (SLD) and confirmed to be linked to the variant, known as B.1.617.2.

Dr Elizabeth Char, director of the Hawaii DOH, said the person’s infection is ‘one of those very rare breakthrough cases in which the vaccine did not prevent infection.’

However, evidence has shown vaccines prevent severe illness with the Pfizer vaccine 96 percent effective against hospitalization from the variant and the AstraZeneca vaccine 92 percent effective, a UK study found.

The person was not hospitalized and there are no signs that he or she transmitted the virus to household contacts or caused any secondary cases.    

‘Early evidence suggests the Delta variant might spread more quickly than other SARS-CoV-2 strains,’ said SLD Administrator Edward Desmond in a statement. 

‘There are reports the Delta variant produces a higher rate of severe illness than original COVID-19, but we do not yet have enough evidence to support that conclusion.’ 

 

Coronavirus vaccines provide more protection against infection with and hospitalization from the Delta (Indian) variant after two doses compared to one dose

It comes as the U.S. hit a grim milestone and surpassed 600,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

That figure is more than the number of Americans who died during World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined, and equal to the yearly cancer toll.

However, health officials are very concerned about the combination of highly infectious variants and unvaccinated Americans as seen in the UK. 

Millions of people across England are being currently being urged not travel or hold indoor gatherings to curb the spread of the Indian Delta variant.

The guidance, affecting 3.6  million residents, was released for the Midlands and North West of England, which are seeing above average rates of the mutant strain.  

Coronavirus cases have undeniably been rising in the UK, and quickly, in recent weeks after the ending of most lockdown rules on May 17 coincided with the takeover of the Indian variant.

The average number of positive tests announced each day is now above 7,000 for the first time since the tail end of the second wave in March, after 7,490 cases were confirmed yesterday after 8,125 on Friday.

There were 50,017 cases confirmed between two weeks ago, a 50 per cent spike from 33,496 the week before.

Places where infection rates with the Delta variant are comparatively high – Bedfordshire, London, Birmingham, Manchester and East Lancashire – had the highest admission rates in the most recent data but even those, the worst-hit hospitals, still had only five patients admitted on June 6.

They also have the most people in hospital in total, with 44 Covid patients on wards in Manchester University NHS Trust on June 8. 

This was the highest in the country and up almost 60 percent in a week from 28 on June 1.

Hospital admissions are creeping up across the UK and more notably in Delta variant hotspots.

The increase has been significantly slower than cases – there was a 15 percent increase in the most recent week, from 875 new admissions by June 1 to 1,008 in the week to June 8.

However, this is likely an effect of the lag between someone getting infected and then getting sick enough to need hospital treatment.  

The spread of the Indian Delta variant – believed to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha strain, also known as the Kent variant, and twice as likely to put unvaccinated people in hospital – has led to the UK government pumping the brakes on England’s June 21 Freedom Day. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday night that the numbers were forcing the end of UK lockdowns to be pushed back by four weeks.

Remaining lockdown restrictions are now due to be lifted on July 19, which Johnson  promised would be the ‘terminus date.’ 

 

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