Coronavirus Delta variant spreads in Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Health experts say the Delta variant of the coronavirus is one of the reasons Lexington is seeing an increase in cases. These experts say virus variants like the Delta strain aren’t a surprise because viruses evolve over time to become more easily transmitted.

“The issue is that it’s not that the virus is more aggressive once you get it, it’s just easier to get it,” says Dr. Ashley Montgomery-Yates, UK HealthCare Chief Medical Officer for inpatient and emergency services.

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State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says as of July 9th, there are at least 26 confirmed Delta cases in Kentucky. According to the panelists, the majority of hospitalizations right now are unvaccinated people.

“We know that the vaccines are doing what they’re supposed to, they’re keeping people out of the hospitals so it’s really important to be vaccinated,” says Vincent Venditto, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the UK College of Pharmacy.

Health experts say the possibility for booster shots is still being researched, but the biggest push right now is to encourage people to go get the first shot.

“We’ve also never used the mRNA technologies and so I don’t think that we know completely where all this is gonna wind up,” says Dr. Montgomery-Yates. “I think everybody wants to end on this side of safety, right? We’d rather booster people a little bit early than let immunity run out across the country and be on the other end of that.”

The experts say if COVID cases continue to rise and vaccination rates stay at the current level, it’s likely mask mandates could come back.

“I think everybody’s scared about the Delta but you know there’s lots of variants out there right now and if you go on long enough one of them could become something, right?” says Dr. Montgomery-Yates. “That’s how we got here. There were lots of coronaviruses for hundreds of years and one of them mutated into this.”