WEST BEND — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking everyone to mask back-up, even if you are fully vaccinated.
It’s because of the more contagious Delta variant.
This strain now makes up 80 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to the CDC. Dr. Chad Tamez with West Bend Medical shares another troubling discovery by scientists showing that even those who are fully vaccinated and exposed to the Delta variant, could spread it to other people.
“I think the biggest difference is that the vaccine seems to have stopped from spreading this one [the original COVID-19 variant]. The vaccine has not stopped us from spreading this one [the Delta variant]," said Tamez.
The doctor shares the reason why is because the Delta variant seems to be much more infectious, adding, “and this is relatively new data, is upwards of 1,000 times higher viral load than the original strain.”
While keeping an eye on the Delta variant, doctors are also watching a new strain, known as the Lambda variant.
First detected in South America, there are less than 1,000 cases of the Lambda variant in the United States, according to a database that tracks COVID cases.
That is compared to nearly 35 million COVID-19 infections in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, according to the CDC.
“I feel like I haven’t had a chance to be concerned about Lambda yet because I’m still concerned about these ones,” said Dr. Tamez. “Lambda is currently listed as a ‘variant of interest' not the virus of concern. It’s not the dominant strain right now. I don’t think this is where we are focusing our efforts.”
Dr. Tamez tells his patients that getting the vaccine will protect you from becoming severely sick or hospitalized from either variant.
In Washington County, where Dr. Tamez practices medicine, 44 percent of the entire county is fully vaccinated.
That’s compared to the statewide average of 49.4 percent as of Monday, according to the Wisconsin DHS.
Dr. Tamez says wearing a mask is another way to slow the spread. He acknowledges it is a hard ask, saying “They’re not perfect, we're not wearing hazmat suits. I think that they have reduced some of the spread.”