Dr. Avula: Early fall peak of COVID cases is likely inevitable

Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Concerns over the Delta variant are growing as cases in much of the state surge and many communities remain significantly under-vaccinated.

Since late last week, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Caroline county have moved into the red zone of COVID transmission. The counties join several others already dealing with high levels of community spread.

Virginia did not report over 1,000 new daily cases since late April before July 28. Since then, the state’s health department has reported more than 1,000 new daily cases multiple times.

On Friday, UVA researchers projected infections could surpass the January 2021 peak number of cases. As scientists continue to learn more about the Delta variant, the CDC recently said the “war has changed” against COVID-19, according to an internal report obtained by ABC News. The CDC recently found this highly contagious version of COVID-19 is more transmissible than the common cold.

The UVA models indicate that Virginia could be going down a dark path. “We also predicted that this kind of thing was going to happen if we didn’t get higher vaccination rates,” said Virginia Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula.

Among what UVA researchers found, they forecasted if vaccination rates don’t improve and cases keep climbing, in September, the number of infections could exceed last winter’s peak.

“If vaccination rates pick up, the model estimates that over 60,000 cases could be avoided,” the UVA report reads.

8News asked Dr. Avula about their projection on Monday. He, however, thinks a September or October peak of cases is inevitable

“We’ve already seen that trend start to be established. I don’t think that we’re gonna be able to vaccinate at rates that are fast enough to significantly slow that,” he said.

Red on the UVA model shows that infections are surging in about a third of the state’s health districts.

Though breakthrough infections are rare, the CDC now says fully vaccinated people can potentially spread Delta as easily as those who are unvaccinated can.

“We’re dealing with a variant that is extremely contagious,” Avula said.

The new finding is raising questions about how vaccinated people should react if they’re exposed.

If that’s you, the CDC says to get tested three to five days after the exposure. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces for 14 days or until a negative test result comes back. If the test is positive, isolate yourself.

Because officials say the vaccine protects against severe illness, Dr. Avula still says it’s unvaccinated people who should be worried right now.

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