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As Tennesseans begin to enjoy summer activities, public health experts remind everyone, especially the unvaccinated, to remain vigilant against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and area health departments are carefully watching the Delta variant of COVID-19. Unfortunately, this variant, which spreads more easily, is leading to an increase in COVID-19 cases in many U.S. states and around the world.

What Is the Delta Variant?

All viruses change, and COVID-19 is no exception. As the virus has swept across the globe, several new variants of COVID-19 have been identified. The World Health Organization has called the Delta variant the “fastest and fittest” version of COVID-19. The Delta variant, known initially as the variant from India, is the most contagious strain identified to date. The Delta variant is also known as B.1.617.2.  In at least 92 countries, including the U.S., it is currently the dominant strain in several countries. The variant has been found in every state, including Tennessee.  The number of Delta variant cases in Tennessee has been growing over the last several weeks. 

While medical experts continue to watch the impacts of the Delta variant, current research and information indicate the Delta variant is extremely contagious and could possibly cause more severe cases of COVID. In addition, based on studies of hospitalization rates, People infected with the Delta variant appear to be sicker, with higher hospitalization rates.

Is My Family at Risk?

Vaccination rates vary widely in many areas of the U.S.—including in Tennessee. Health experts are concerned about outbreaks of the Delta variant in places where vaccination rates are especially low. The parts of the country with the lowest vaccination rates are already starting to see increases in COVID-19 cases. Areas with low vaccination numbers are reporting case rates an average of three times higher than in the U.S. as a whole.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

With the rise of case numbers and the more contagious Delta variant spreading, it is more important than ever that people get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19 and has proven effective at protecting against all forms of the virus including the Delta variant. 

Even those who previously believed themselves to be at a lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should exercise caution until they are fully vaccinated. Getting vaccinated and exercising caution in public activities helps protect you and those around you. 

To learn more about vaccinations and where you can get them, visit Tennessee’s COVID-19 information hub.

Additional Resources

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#variant-proportions

https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/5-things-to-know-delta-variant-covid

https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/06/15/1026365/the-delta-variant-doubles-the-risk-of-hospitalization-but-the-vaccines-still-wor