It's a bit of a game of Russian Roulette as the odds are 6 to 1 for serious illness for the unvaccinated
Governor Andy Beshear held a news conference this afternoon, Monday, July 19, to discuss the Delta variant, a coronavirus mutation. He said the variant is starting to infiltrate Kentucky and "one solution is to get vaccinated."
In Kentucky, almost 2.25 million adults have been vaccinated with one of the three available vaccines: Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson. That's roughly 51% of the total population. Both the Governor and KY Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Steven Stack, agreed this number isn't good enough.
A breakdown by age group of the vaccinated is as follows: 83% of those 65 and older are vaccinated, 65% of those 50 - 64 are vaccinated, 51% of those 40-49 are vaccinated, 46% of those age 30-39 are vaccinated., and, of those 18 - 29, about a third of that population has been vaccinated or 36%. Beshear stated that the biggest risk by age group for the Delta variant are Kentuckians age 18 - 49. "It's our biggest weakness," he said.
Another slide shown today was a map of Kentucky emphasizing counties with less than 40% of its population vaccinated. Counties in western Kentucky included McCracken and Marshall. Beshear said if you're in any of these counties, you're likely to encounter an unvaccinated person each time you leave your house to be around the general public.
The positivity rate for Kentucky this week is just under 5.5% up from a 5.12% only last week. There's been an increase in hospitalizations. Beshear said it hasn't been of the same magnitude prior to vaccinations but they're watching the data.
The Delta variant has been the most aggressive of the COVID-19 strains. The reasons include: the spread, the viral load, the way the viral load breaks through, plus, for those that require hospitalization, the Delta Variant may be more fatal.
FYI: How does the viral load react in the body? The amount of coronavirus in the body changes drastically over the course of the infection. The levels rise from undetectable to yielding positive test results in just hours, and viral loads continue to increase until the immune response kicks in. Then viral loads quickly decline. But viral fragments may linger in the body, triggering positive test results long after the patient has stopped being infections and the illness has resolved. (The New York Times article: You're infected with the coronavirus. But how infected?)
Dr. Stack discussed a reported 6 : 1 ratio for prevention of serious illness when comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated people, meaning it's six times more likely to be seriously ill if not vaccinated. He said, "It's a choice to get vaccinated or not vaccinated...a dangerous choice." According to Forbes, a former FDA Head said that if a person contracts the variant, "It may be the most serious illness you may ever have in your life".
There have been reports of clustering by local health departments around the country. There's been a steady increase from May 31 through July 16, 2021. "The Yankees just canceled a ballgame due to Covid and the Olympics are having some concerns," said Beshear. Clusters include: camp, child daycare, congregate settings, general business, places of worship, social events, and travel. "It's the way we interact with each other," said Dr. Stack.
There were recommendations release today at the briefing, one of which is new.
1. All unvaccinated people have to wear masks anytime they're outside their home and inside with people they don't live with.
2. Kentuckians at higher risk for pre-existing conditions should wear masks, even if vaccinated.
3. Vaccinated Kentuckians with jobs around the general public everyday, should mask-up.
4. All unvaccinated Kentuckians, when eligible, should be vaccinated immediately.
Protect yourself, protect others, and get vaccinated. Do it for the immunocompromised, the elderly, and our children. There have been cases, in Kentucky and other parts of the U.S., that have vaccinated people hospitalized. However, most of the hospitalizations and almost all of the deaths are occurring among the unvaccinated.