ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The delta variant is spreading across the United States and the St. Louis area is being hit hard. COVID-19 numbers are on the rise.
The St. Louis area hospitals' task force is asking everyone, even those who are vaccinated, to return to wearing masks in public places.
So, if you are vaccinated why are you still being asked to wear a mask?
The CDC says new recent data appears to show those who are vaccinated who contract the virus can spread the delta variant just as easily as those who aren't vaccinated.
Researchers with the CDC said this is especially concerning because people infected with the delta variant have more of the virus in their bodies. Scientists have found people who contract the delta variant have 1,000 times more copies of the virus in their respiratory tracts than the original COVID-19 strain.
CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, released a statement saying, in part: "High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus."
A concerning combination of low vaccination rates and high community transmission is making breakthrough cases “an increasing reality," the St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH) said in an update Wednesday morning.
“The disease is different, more transmissible and more likely to affect children,” the health department said.
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health said breakthrough cases made up about 19.6% of cases for the month of July, but this may be an overestimate because of low COVID-19 testing rates in the area.
Over the course of the pandemic, the health department has documented 1,496 breakthrough cases, with most of them coming in the last six to eight weeks. That coincides with the rapid spread of the delta variant.
There were 453,582 people vaccinated in the county through July, so positive cases amounted to .003% of that group.
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health and CDC say that people who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to get severely ill or die from the virus.
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health says many times, a COVID-19 diagnosis in a fully vaccinated person is from sustained exposure to a COVID-19 infection in an unvaccinated person, usually in the same household.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said on July 20 the region is “bracing for a third wave of COVID-19 that could exceed the death and serious illness experienced last winter.”
The county health department gave an update on the surge of COVID-19 cases.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 3, St. Louis County said they are seeing an average of 274 new cases every day. The department said the “vast majority” of these cases are unvaccinated people.
The county’s positivity rate is currently 11.8%, which means not enough people are getting tested for COVID-19 so there are probably more than 274 new cases each day.
The St. Louis County Health Department is offering free community coronavirus testing events. COVID-19 tests are available at all three St. Louis County Public Health Clinics, and walk-up testing is available at John C Murphy Health Center and South County Health Center.
St. Louis County Health Department says anyone who feels ill should get tested, and anyone still unvaccinated should seek out the vaccine now. More information about testing and vaccines can be found at https://revivestl.com/.