Doctors say there is increasing evidence that the new “delta” variant of coronavirus is spreading across the United States, and public health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated in hopes of preventing a surge in new COVID cases.
The delta variant, which scientists believe may be the most aggressive and contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus that has been seen, has been tracked in Chicago, and is continuing to spread.
“We are seeing it grow here in Chicago. We’ve had at least 70 cases detected here already,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said.
The delta variant is now making up an estimated 20% of new COVID cases throughout the nation, according to officials.
“I think we definitely should be concerned about it,” Dr. Temitope Oyedele, infectious disease physician at Cook County Health, said. “It is a strain of the coronavirus that has shown to be more transmittable.”
Cases of the variant, even more contagious potentially than the alpha variant that swept through the United Kingdom and is likely the most prolific-strain in the state of Illinois, are roughly doubling every two weeks, a trajectory that has some officials worried.
Oyedele says that the only way to combat the delta variant is to vaccinate more residents, giving the virus fewer avenues of transmission.
To that end, officials are moving away from mass vaccination sites, with sites like the United Center set to close, and more towards hyper-local, door-to-door type vaccination events to get shots into more arms.
“If you are not, please (get vaccinated),” Oyedele said. “That is the most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19, including this new variant.”
This weekend, city officials will offer shots at CTA stations and other events, and will even give away tickets to Lollapalooza in an effort to encourage more individuals to get vaccinated.
Pride in the Park will also host a vaccination clinic, along with 63rd Street Beach.