Triad doctors warn of COVID-19 Delta variant increase in four weeks


GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Amid low COVID-19 hospitalizations, Triad doctors have told families to enjoy the upcoming Fourth of July if they are vaccinated, but warn of a possible Delta variant surge.

Novant Health and Cone Health hospitals have reported single-digit COVID hospitalizations, while Wake Forest Baptist Health reports a less than 5 percent COVID-19 hospitalization rate.

Their concerns, however, are now focused on the Delta variant that has become a prominent virus in parts of the country. So far, 25 percent of COVID-19 hospitalization in the country are from the variant, while only 15 percent are found in North Carolina cases.

This is believed to be for a variety of reasons. However, doctors expect that to change by the end of July into the early parts of August.

Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious disease expert with Wake Forest Baptist Health, explained, “The vaccination percentages that we have right now, the Delta variant when it comes around, it will set us back.”

So far, North Carolina is not projected to meet its summer goal of 75 percent of adults vaccinated until February 2022.

That, coupled with the Delta variant doubling in country-wide cases every two weeks, has him and others warning people to be cautious if they have not been vaccinated.

“Our hospitalizations will go up again. It’ll be a lot younger cohort of people,” he said.

It is believed that the Delta variant will impact younger people more than older people due to the percentage of those vaccinated.

In the Triad, less than 30 percent of eligible teens are vaccinated.

“We could see impact, both from cases and for hospitalizations at the time. Good news is, we certainly have the hospital capacity to deal with that,” said Dr. David Priest, with Novant Health.

Dr. Cynthia Snyder, an infectious disease specialist with Cone Health, explained that the variant is, “really contagious. We worry that within four weeks times, this is where we’ll see more admissions.”

Doctors stress that if you have Fourth of July plans, to enjoy the gatherings outside if you are not vaccinated, and to wear a mask if you have not gotten your shot or if you have a child that is not vaccinated.

“Anything outdoors is fine. If you have an unvaccinated child, try to keep it outside. If you’re a largely unvaccinated people, you have just transported yourself back in time to where we were struggling with COVID, and now there will be a Delta variant on top of that,” Ohl said.

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