A rise in COVID-19 - What you can do to help stop the spread

July 30, 2021

The Delta variant makes up 83% of analyzed cases in the United States.

PADUCAH, KY (July 30, 2021) - As many schools are set to begin in-person classes next week, the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in our region due to the delta variant.

Baptist Health Paducah has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks. The delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has emerged as the dominant version of the virus. It now makes up 83% of analyzed cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The variant has proven to be about 60% more contagious than other versions of the COVID-19 virus and is making people, especially those unvaccinated, sicker than other versions of the virus. There also are reports of “breakthrough” cases, which are incidents of vaccinated people testing positive for the virus. When a virus widely circulates and causes many infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases, according to the World Health Organization. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more it replicates, and the more it undergoes changes.

Baptist Health Paducah Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Housman said it is important to get vaccinated for many reasons, especially those who have already had COVID-19 and have not been vaccinated. “If you’ve had COVID and get exposed to the delta variant, it’s possible you will get re-infected by the more contagious variant, if you’re not vaccinated,” he said. The greatest defense against becoming seriously ill or dying from any known version of COVID-19 is vaccination. “All of the vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. have shown significant effectiveness against the delta variant,” said Housman.

Experts say the more the virus hops from one person to the next, the more chances it has to mutate into a version that could one day evade the vaccines’ defenses. That’s why Baptist Health Paducah is encouraging those 12 and older to get the vaccine as soon as possible. “Folks should really consider getting vaccinated if they have not done so already in order to protect their health and the health of their loved ones,” said Housman.

In addition to vaccination, the best defense against COVID-19 is to continue to mask if you have a high-risk condition when in public places or with others who are at high-risk, especially for those unvaccinated. In addition, strict hand hygiene and physical distancing is still encouraged. "For those who are unvaccinated, even an outdoor meal at a restaurant can be unsafe if you’re dining with people from multiple households. Crowds at outdoor concerts, parades, or sports events hold even more danger of contracting the virus," said Housman.

While no vaccine authorized for emergency use in the U.S. has proven 100% effective in preventing the contraction of COVID-19, the breakthrough cases, those fully vaccinated individuals, may still get diagnosed with COVID-19. Dr. Housman said vaccines are most effective in preventing serious illness or death. “Most fully vaccinated people who get COVID-19 either have no symptoms or experience mild symptoms similar to those of a common cold. The five most common symptoms of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated people include a headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and loss of smell.“

For more information about where you can get your vaccine, go to https://www.vaccines.gov.