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Your Healthy Family: Explaining how infectious the delta variant is

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 20:00:48-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — There has been so much changing about COVID-19 over the last couple of days in the United States – and officials say it’s being driven by the highly contagious delta variant. But exactly how much more contagious are we talking about? Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth, says no matter what you may believe your risk level is to COVID-19, the delta variant is on the move right now.

“The spread is real, if you look at the numbers and the reports coming out of the states that are really having horrible surges at their hospitals … that is real. There is no doubt about that.”

Dr. Barron says the rethinking of mitigation recommendations – including masking - is all about how quickly the delta variant may spread.

“The delta variant is extraordinarily more infectious. It's passing along so much more virus than the alpha variant or the original strain of COVID. When delta gets into your nose and your respiratory tract and turns on its virus factory, it makes a thousand times more virus than the original strain. So its pure numbers: You have a thousand times more virus hanging out in your respiratory tract and that risk now is a thousand times more of spreading. That's a lot of virus, and it’s able to get to 10 times more people, and then 10 more people and so on and so on. It's really a math equation - it's sheer numbers.”

For more information from Dr. Barron about weighing your risks and behaviors in light of the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, we’ll have that in our next story and you can read this article [uchealth.org] featuring Dr. Barron in UCHealth Today on-line. (https://www.uchealth.org/today/the-covid-19-delta-variant-and-masks-should-you-wear-a-mask-again/ [uchealth.org])

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