(File Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — The more contagious Delta variant is fueling a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona, especially among unvaccinated young people.
“We know that it’s much more easily transmitted to people, so we anticipated seeing increases,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM about the Delta variant.
New COVID-19 cases have been steadily increasing in the last few weeks throughout Arizona, as has the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recently classified Arizona as one of the few states in the nation where there’s substantial community spread of COVID-19.
This comes as the Delta variant is becoming more predominant in Arizona. It’s now the second-most common behind the U.K. variant.
“Just a couple weeks ago it was the third, so it’s quickly moving up,” Christ said. “The good news is that the vaccine is effective against the Delta variant if you’re fully vaccinated.”
In a blog post this week, Christ pointed to the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines by noting that 92.4% of the new cases reported in June were among those who weren’t vaccinated or weren’t fully vaccinated.
She also noted many of the people ending up in the hospital because of COVID-19 are unvaccinated young people.
“It’s that 20- to 44-year-old age group that we’re seeing increased hospitalizations in,” she said.
Christ said the statewide vaccination rates among those 55 and older are better than for younger age groups.
“We know that the vaccine is effective in preventing hospitalization and death,” she said.
“So where we’re going to see this pandemic continue to spread is in those unvaccinated communities, whether it’s a rural community that has low vaccination rates or it’s an age group that hangs out together and has low vaccination rates.”
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