DENVER (CBS4) – There are growing concerns about the delta variant of COVID-19 in Colorado. The highly contagious strain of Covid-19 is surging in the western part of the state. Mesa County has reported more than 600 of cases of the Delta variant so far — with more than 560 new cases in just the last two weeks.
"The initial estimates from the original strain of COVID were that you would likely spread it to two or three people. With the Delta variant, it's more like four to five people. And then those four to five people go on to spread it to four or five more people," said Dr. Michelle Barron, an infectious disease expert at UCHealth.
Last week Gov. Jared Polis declared Colorado's COVID-19 State of Emergency over, but many vaccinated people could unknowingly be carrying and spreading the Delta variant.
"A lot of vaccinated people are simply having a runny nose and a sore throat. It's more like cold symptoms. It's very mild as opposed to the full-blown disease you see in individuals who are unvaccinated and end up in the hospital," said Barron.
The White House coronavirus response coordinator says virtually all Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths in United States are now occurring among unvaccinated individuals. Some vaccinated carriers of the Delta variant are asymptomatic, a worry for many doctors.
"I think we sort of dismissed it in our heads because I think we think 'well, I guess I got a summer cold," said Barron. "If you have cold symptoms, you probably should be tested for COVID, even if you've been vaccinated. Stay away from others."
According to the state's data, the vaccination numbers are still going up slowly. With this dangerous variant spreading, doctors say it's even more important to get the shot if you haven't already. It will protect yourself and those around you who are too young to get the vaccine.
"If you look at the age range of the data, the numbers of individuals in that age group that aren't eligible for vaccines seem to be testing positive at a higher frequency than they were before," said Barron.
New mutations are being still discovered. The World Health Organization says the Delta variant could reintroduce indoor mask mandates in areas with low-vaccination rates.
In some countries, it already has. To learn where you can get the vaccine, visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine/where-you-can-get-vaccinated.
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