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PHOENIX (July 9, 2021)—There is new evidence that the more-contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading in Maricopa County. A COVID-19 outbreak has been identified in a long-term care facility, and sequencing results from some of the cases are the Delta variant. The majority of sequencing results have not come back yet. The facility has been working closely with Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) and has followed all recommendations to put enhanced infection control measures into place.
“Unfortunately, this underscores how much more contagious the Delta variant is and how quickly it can spread from person to person, especially to people who are not fully vaccinated,” said Marcy Flanagan, executive director at MCDPH. The Delta variant has been increasing in Maricopa County since April and represented about 20% of sequenced cases during the month of June. “We expect it will continue to increase, as it is now the dominant variant in the U.S.,” Flanagan added.
“We still have an opportunity to increase our community’s protection before the Delta variant becomes dominant locally,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at MCDPH.
The best protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant, is to get fully vaccinated. “The vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant, but you have to get the full vaccine series to get the maximum protection,” said Dr. Sunenshine. “The majority of people who get the Delta variant are not fully vaccinated.”
MCDPH is asking residents and visitors to Maricopa County to do their part to protect themselves and those around them:
- If you are able to be vaccinated and are not yet fully vaccinated:
- Please get vaccinated—it is safe and highly effective in preventing serious illness and death.
- If you got your first dose of Moderna or Pfizer, it is critical that you get your second dose.
- While the vaccine is highly effective after two doses, it may be as low as 30% effective after only one dose against the Delta variant, so the second dose is extremely important.
- You are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or your first dose of Johnson & Johnson
- Even if it has been longer than a month since your first dose, it is not too late to get your second dose and you do not have to start the series over.
- People who have gotten COVID-19 before are still encouraged to get vaccinated for broader, longer-lasting protection than natural immunity from a prior infection.
- Until you are fully vaccinated, take precautions, such as social distancing, avoiding crowds, and wearing a mask when you are around people outside your household.
Our community is doing a good job of getting people vaccinated, but we can do better. There are still people who are vulnerable, including children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination and people with depressed immune systems.
“If we can get more people vaccinated, the virus won’t have as many opportunities to spread and everyone will be more protected,” said Dr. Sunenshine.
“Maricopa County is committed to making vaccine broadly available, so we are continuing to offer small, community-based events that make it easy for people to get vaccinated near their homes, work, and on their schedule,” added Flanagan. “These events are in addition to ongoing vaccine opportunities with pharmacies and providers across Maricopa County,” she said.
To find a vaccine near you, visit Maricopa.gov/COVID19VaccineLocations. If you have questions about vaccines, visit Maricopa.gov/COVID19VaccineFacts.
More about the COVID-19 Delta variant:
WHAT IS THE DELTA VARIANT?
- The Delta variant is a strain of COVID-19 that is more contagious than other strains of COVID-19. This means it spreads from person-to-person more easily, especially if a person is not vaccinated.
- As of July 2021, the Delta variant has become the “dominant variant” in the United States, which means that most of the new COVID-19 cases that are being analyzed are caused by the Delta variant.
- The amount of Delta variant is increasing in Maricopa County and will likely become the dominant variant.
- People who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are most at risk of getting the Delta variant, and possibly becoming more seriously ill.
HOW IS THE DELTA VARIANT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER COVID-19?
- Based on what we know, the Delta variant is spread more easily from person-to-person, which is why it is important that everyone 12 years and older get vaccinated.
- There is also some evidence that the illness caused by the Delta variant may be more severe, particularly in younger people, but there is still a lot to learn about this variant.