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Healthcare workers share growing concern over Delta variant

Experts predict the Delta variant could become the dominant strain by this fall.
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For Dr. Ann Sheehy, it’s been a long road tending to patients in the COVID-19 ICU at UW Health.

“It really has been a challenging year,” said Sheehy. “We feel like we’re in a much better place right now but we still have these looming threats.”

Like most healthcare workers, Sheehy is keeping a careful eye on the COVID-19 variants. She is concerned about another rise in hospitalizations.

“If we had to go back and do that again and start over and have a surge like we did last year, I think it would be really hard to fact that,” she said.

At Unity Point Health-Meriter, Dr. Chris Lowry continues to care for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

“We might not be all the way out of the woods yet,” said Lowry. “We’re still seeing people get really sick and we’re still seeing people get sick that probably otherwise wouldn’t need to be.”

He says the variants are a reminder that doctors around the world continue to discover more about coronavirus.

“We’ve seen some really scary stuff with all of this and we don’t have all the information yet,” said Lowry. “We’re just constantly learning from all of this. It’s just something we really need to be aware of.”

UW Health’s Chief Quality Officer, Dr. Jeff Pothof, says health experts are closely watching the Delta variant, which is said to be more contagious and could become the most dominant strain by this fall.

“It’s just a matter of time because it’s just a better virus,” said Pothof. “It’s survival of the fittest. What’s the most easy to spread often, almost always, becomes the dominant strain.”

Dr. Pothof says he’s reviewed a small study that reveal those who contract the Delta variant were also twice as likely to be hospitalized.

“So that’s worrisome because we don’t want to see a bunch of people who are unvaccinated, hit the health care system and need to be hospitalize for the disease,” said Pothof.

Doctors say the good news is that U.S. vaccines are proven to be effective against the Delta variant.

“We’re really hoping that people get vaccinated so we don’t have to see this ever again,” said Sheehy.

To view the latest variant numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, click HERE.

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