‘It’s not too late to get vaccinated’: State epidemiologist, local doctor on the rise of the Delta variant


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A new study by the Center for Disease Control says the Delta variant of COVID-19 can spread as fast as measles or chickenpox and that even vaccinated people can spread it. Friday we talked to the South Dakota state epidemiologist and a doctor at Avera to find out what you need to keep in mind with this strain.

So far there have been 13 confirmed cases of the Delta variant in South Dakota. State epidemiologist, Dr. Joshua Clayton, says that number is likely to increase.

“We anticipate that if the majority of our cases are not currently Delta, then they will be very soon,” said Dr. Clayton.

South Dakota COVID numbers are low right now, but Dr. Clayton says that could change quickly and now is the time to protect yourself.

“First and foremost, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Even though we have a very low rate of cases, this is probably a really good time to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Clayton.

“98-percent of the people that are testing positive for COVID 19 at this time have not been vaccinated, so there’s 2-percent of the population out there that have been vaccinated that are getting exposed,” said Avera pulmonologist Dr. Anthony Hericks.

Dr. Anthony Hericks is a pulmonologist with Avera. He says the Delta variant spreads more easily and is attacking a new group of unvaccinated people.

“That population isn’t our 70’s, 80’s and 90 year olds that we saw early on last year. This is 20 and 30, 40, and 50 years olds now being hospitalized,” said Avera pulmonologist Dr. Anthony Hericks.

The CDC now recommends that if you travel you may want to wear a mask indoors.

“They are recommending that individuals who are fully vaccinated, if they are in an area where there is substantial or high transmission of cases, that they are recommended to go ahead and start masking again, even if they are fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Clayton.

And both doctors point out that putting on a mask indoors in crowded places won’t hurt you.

“So, putting a mask on for the next month or so, to see if the the numbers will go down and to protect yourself and protect your loved ones is probably the right thing to do,” said Avera pulmonologist Dr. Anthony Hericks.

Dr. Hericks says that right now, 95-percent of the people in the hospital in South Dakota with COVID-19, are unvaccinated.

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