COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health answered questions surrounding the delta variant of COVID-19 in the state Wednesday morning.
Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff and Dr. Andrew Thomas, the chief clinical officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, addressed rising health concerns during the conference.
"Based on the trends we're seeing, it's clear that the delta variant is on the rise in Ohio," said Vanderhoff, adding the variant is on its way to becoming a dominant virus strain in the state.
Since last Thursday, health officials in Ohio have reported three days where cases have surpassed the 300 mark.
In recent weeks, detection of the delta variant has risen from 1.9% in the days between May 23 to June 5, to 15% from June 6 to June 19.
Vanderhoff says emerging data shows that number is likely to double in the coming weeks.
While how the virus is spread is the same, health officials say the delta variant is more easily transmitted. In other words, it takes less of the variant to infect someone, Thomas explained.
"Vaccination remains our best defense," said Vanderhoff, adding current vaccines are effective against the delta variant.
As of May, roughly 99% of nationwide deaths from the virus were reported in those who remain unvaccinated.
Nationwide, the number of daily COVID-19 cases has doubled in recent weeks. Health officials have cited the delta variant, a decline in vaccination rates, and Fourth of July gatherings as reasons for the increase.
The briefing comes as local health commissioners continue a push to get more residents vaccinated.
Aside from getting the vaccine, Vanderhoff suggests Ohioans continue to practice safety guidelines -- that includes wearing a mask in public settings if you have not yet been vaccinated.
In terms of what you need to know, Dr. Vanderhoff says there are three key takeaways:
- It’s highly contagious and spreads exponentially fast 50% more contagious than Alha.
- Delta is a real threat to the unvaccinated.
- Vaccination remains our best defense.
"Delta is here and it is rising rapidly," said Vanderhoff.