Rise in delta variant leaves Virginia health leaders concerned

Popovich: 'Less that 1 percent of individuals who got vaccinated have gotten COVID'
Coronavirus test
Posted at 6:51 PM, Jul 16, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- As the summer heat continues to move up numbers on the thermometer, other rising numbers have left health experts in the area concerned.

The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are seeing an increase in the delta variant. While these cases may be a small percentage for the time being, in just two weeks the number of cases has doubled.

There are now concerns that these numbers will continue to increase.

“The message we’re trying to share is that the delta variant is coming," said Amy Popovich with the Richmond Henrico Health Districts said.

“What we’re seeing in the Richmond and Henrico Area is still a majority of cases are the alpha variant at 89.7 percent. The delta variant is a small percentage but is increasing. We saw 3.8 percent of cases in the central region two weeks ago and now we’re up to 6.3 percent," Popovich said.

However, Popovich warned this number may actually be higher than what is currently reported.

“We know that not every test gets run for the variant, so we expect for that percentage is actually higher."

Experts are concerned about a potential spike in cases later in the year when fall and winter bring people back indoors.

“We’re really expecting that doubling to get faster in the weeks to come," she said.

Amid the growing concern about the variant, Popovich is emphasizing the importance of being vaccinated.

“Information from VDH yesterday, is that to date, there’s 99.4 percent effectiveness of the vaccine. So that means less that 1 percent of individuals who got vaccinated have gotten COVID," Popovich said.

Between January 21 and June 25 of 2021, Popovich said that vaccinated people who come down with COVID have a milder case. However, for those who are unvaccinated, the delta variant can pose serious health risks.

“It’s easy to catch, easier to spread between persons and it has higher severe COVID cases," Popovich said.

Despite the concerning rise of the variant, Popovich said that there is one set of numbers on the rise that health officials consider to be good news.

“Kids vaccinated, particularly ages 12 to 17, we’ve seen a pretty steady increase since the Pfizer Emergency Use Authorization was approved for kids 12 and up in early May," Popovich said.

Popovich said that extra precautions should be taken for children under the age of 12.

Any "time there are lots of kids gathered who are younger than 12, that means none of them have been vaccinated and that spread can still happen," Popovich said.