What This Means for our Schools, Workplaces and Public Places
The Delta variant, a mutation of the original version of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), is now responsible for 97-99% of all of America’s COVID cases.
It’s also driving the current surge in infections and hospitalizations among children, teens and young adults, a group whom one doctor describes as “younger, sicker, quicker.”
What’s so Different about Delta?
According to one published study (non peer reviewed), people who contract the Delta variant can have a thousand times more virus particles in their upper respiratory system. Infected patients can also show symptoms sooner.
America’s current (August 20) seven-day average case count has risen to 143,827—a 44% rise from two weeks ago. By contrast, in late June, we were averaging about 11,000 daily cases. Hospitalizations have risen by 53% and COVID deaths by 108%.
In response to what many are calling “the summer surge,” the CDC has updated its recommendations for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people—including indoor mask wearing.
Are Some Locations More High-Risk Than Others?
Yes. Currently, most U.S. cases and hospitalizations have been among the unvaccinated. However, in one cluster in Provincetown, Massachusetts an estimated three-quarters of the approximately 900 cases occurred in fully vaccinated people. Delta has also caused the current outbreaks and hospital admissions in hot spot states such as Florida, Louisiana and Missouri.
My School-Age Teenagers and I Have Been Fully Vaccinated. Are We Still at Risk?
Yes. While the science and data on breakthrough infections (infections among the vaccinated) are evolving, we know that, among all the variants, Delta is more transmissible–even among the fully vaccinated. Also, ProPublica reports that the CDC’s tracking and reportage of breakthrough cases only reflects cases that led to hospitalization or death. For a-symptomatic or mild cases, the data for case rates or infections among vaccinated persons are uncertain.
We do know this: Breakthrough cases tend to carry roughly the same viral load as unvaccinated people. Vaccinated people are also as likely to transmit the virus to others.
Recently, Israel, one of the first countries in the world to reach herd-immunity (90% of adults over 50 vaccinated), endured a July surge in which 399 positive cases were among vaccinated people, compared to 320 in unvaccinated people. As children return to in-classroom learning and as employees return to “normal” workplaces, Delta is a key threat to safety and a key driver of our re-vamped infection-control protocols.
Will the Delta Variant Jeopardize School Returns and In-Classroom Learning?
Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 4.3 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19. More recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that, from July 29 to August 5, we saw 93,824 child COVID-19 cases—a 4% rise since mid July.
No vaccine has been approved for children under 12. Also, in its recent survey, the AAP found that, when it is approved, less than half of responding parents said that they are likely to allow children to receive the vaccine.
Among teens, less than 30% of eligible 12 to 15-year-olds are fully vaccinated.
Now, faced with the Delta surge, the CDC and the AAP recommend school mask mandates. But for some schools, these guidelines are too late. Currently, in at least five U.S. states, schools have already shut down due to Delta infections among students. In Palm Beach County Florida, 440 students were quarantined after 51 students and eight faculty had confirmed cases.
Also, the July Israeli surge (cited above) started with three school-based outbreaks in which unvaccinated children infected vaccinated school personnel.
As Well as Schools, What Will Delta Mean for Workplaces?
This summer and fall, many employers are transitioning back to “normal” or hybrid work set-ups–which presents risks for employers and employees. In response, many large-group public and private organizations, such as the State of California, the U.S. Military, New York City teachers, Facebook and Google, are all requiring their employees to get vaccinated. Also, 180+ U.S. hospitals and healthcare groups are now mandating that employees show proof of vaccination or have a recent negative COVID test. Therefore, organizations will need an efficient and HIPAA compliant way to test employees and to securely store, aggregate and report that data.
What’s In Store for Late Fall and Winter 2021?
Like many things COVID, we don’t know. In a recent interview on “This Week,” Chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci warned that “things are going to get worse” as the Delta strain continues to drive new COVID cases.
Delta is not the only threat. The World Health Organization (WHO) is watching four other COVID mutations–particularly the Lambda strain, which has shown up in Texas, South Carolina and California (152 cases in CA).
Finally, in its ensemble forecasts, the CDC predicts that 560,000 to 2,250,000 new COVID cases will likely get reported in the week ending September 11, 2021.
How Can My School System Keep Children and Employees Safe from COVID Infections?
As we return to indoor spaces, schools, hospitals and businesses need to have both a prevention, detection and reliable testing strategy in place.
Visit the Opteev website to learn how to create a BioVirus Prevention Plan to protect your indoor spaces and pre-empt potential viral outbreaks among school children, staff, teachers and other employees.
Based on patented bio-sensing technology, Opteev will be launching its ViraWarn product in mid-September and models will start at $459.
ViraWarn is an affordable plug-in device to protect schools, workplaces and other public-access spaces by detecting and alerting of airborne coronaviruses (think smoke detector but for COVID-19, including all COVID variants and influenza).
ViraWarn brings peace of mind and can help your school or workplace to safely return to in-person learning and working—while also enhancing organizational trust and reputation.
To learn more about viral detection and protection, watch this explainer video.
Or check out this TV news report in which Conrad Bessemer, Opteev’s chairman and co-founder, who explains how ViraWarn works.
What BioVirus Prevention Plan Strategy Would fit Your Schools’ Setup, Staff and Students?
Contact your Opteev distributor, representative or sales office to discuss your needs and to learn more about our detection and temperature-scanning products.
Email: [email protected]. Phone: +1-443-457-1370.