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COVID-19 Delta variant is ‘highly contagious,’ Ohio health leaders say

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 1:04 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX/AP) - The state’s top medical official says coronavirus vaccination trends have led to the development of ‘two Ohios’ just as the highly contagious delta variant spreads widely.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff is chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health. He said Wednesday that one Ohio consists of vaccinated people who are protected from COVID-19, while the second group involves people who aren’t vaccinated and are vulnerable to the variant.

According to Vanderhoff, the Delta variant accounted for less than 1% of all positive COVID-19 cases in the beginning of May. As of June 19, Delta accounted for 15%.

“Delta is highly contagious,” Dr. Vanderhoff said.

He said experts found the Delta variant is 50% more contagious than the Alpha variant.

Vanderhoff and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Chief Clinical Officer Andrew Thomas both said the vaccines remain to be the best defense.

“All three of the vaccines offer very high rates of protection against delta hospitalization and death,” Vanderhoff said. “While, yes, there are potential side effects from vaccination – just like there are from any antibiotic or any medication – those risks are small, indeed, compared with the risks of COVID-19 with people of any age.”

“It takes less of the virus to potentially infect you,” said Thomas.

Currently, 45.15% of Ohioans are fully vaccinated as of the latest data reported by the state on July 13.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine said the state plans to unveil a new coronavirus vaccination incentive program.

The governor said the announcement will come within the next week with a goal of increasing vaccinations.

DeWine first announced the Vax-a-Million program in May as an incentive to help boost COVID-19 vaccination numbers.

He didn’t provide details about the new program.

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Copyright 2021 WXIX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.