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Officials say Delta variant could lead to more outbreaks of COVID-19

The more contagious strain of the virus could soon be the dominant variant in Wisconsin.
Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 8:49 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Health officials are warning the more contagious Delta variant is spreading in Wisconsin, even as total case numbers drop. Officials said the variant could become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in as soon as two months.

The biggest risk is the rate of spread. UW-Madison professor of pathology David O’Connor said this variant is extremely contagious, more than strains of the virus circulating in 2020 or earlier in 2021.

“If I was infected, it would have taken five minutes for you to get infected from the air that I was breathing or that I was exhaling. Now, with this virus, you might get infected after just two and a half minutes,” he explained.

Vaccines provide protection against serious illness, but O’Connor said they do not necessarily protect against infection. A fully vaccinated person could contract the virus and pass it on to someone else, possibly starting an outbreak.

“I give the virus to someone who’s unvaccinated and that unvaccinated person then goes to another bar where there’s a lot of unvaccinated people, the virus can take off like wildfire,” he said.

Officials also said they are worried about how the variant could impact younger kids who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, creating concerns about returning to school in fall.

O’Connor also said it is possible the spread of the Delta variant could make renewed restrictions necessary later this year, but the best way to avoid that is for everyone who is not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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