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CDC: Delta variant as transmissible as chickenpox, KIRO 7 asks the experts what that means

KING COUNTY, Wash. — The delta variant, first detected in India, is taking off in Washington and quickly multiplying. Doctors say it is seeking out the unvaccinated.

“Residents who are not vaccinated are 10 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, 15 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, and 12 times more likely to die,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin of Public Health Seattle and King County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns the delta variant is more transmissible than MERS and SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the flu, and smallpox. They say it is as transmissible as chickenpox.

KIRO7 asked Duchin what that means.

“The bottom line is that COVID-19 is highly contagious through the air, chickenpox is highly contagious through the air. They’re both highly contagious airborne disease,” said Duchin.

The CDC says the delta variant is much more contagious than the original strain, quickly multiplying.

“Vaccinated people who do have a breakthrough infection are clearly capable of transmitting the infection to an uninfected person,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In King County, the rate of breakthrough is still one-tenth of 1% of those vaccinated, 1489 cases as of July 16.

Public Health is investigating an outbreak of breakthrough cases at a Seattle gym after a Pride fundraising workout on June 26. They say at least 14 fully vaccinated people tested positive for COVID. They say the workout was indoors for a couple of hours, and participants were not wearing masks and were not socially distanced. Investigators also found there was not adequate ventilation. They expect to release more information next week.

And while the variant carries many of the same symptoms as the original strain, Duchin says patients also report runny noses, sneezing, congestion, and a sore throat.

Masks are recommended in indoor public settings, where the vaccination status of others is unknown.

At this point, Public Health Seattle and King County is not considering a mask mandate.

“With the level of diseases we’re seeing in the county today, I do not believe any more restrictive or coercive guidance is necessary,” said Duchin.

He noted there appears to be an uptick in people seeking vaccinations in the last week.

On Friday, Public Health Seattle and King County announced it is recommending mandatory vaccination for all health care workers.

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