Daniel talks Delta variant at Rotary

Published 9:03 am Saturday, August 7, 2021

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to say that most people hospitalized are NOT vaccinated against COVID-19.

LANETT — The current spike of the Covid-19 Delta variant has been called by some experts the pandemic of the unvaccinated. That’s because the overwhelming majority of people who are hospitalized have not received a Covid-19 vaccination.

Cindy Daniel, EAMC-Lanier’s director of inpatient services, talked about the delta variant at Thursday’s meeting of the West Point Rotary Club. Daniel has a degree in nursing from Auburn University and has 40 years of experience in the field.

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Chambers County currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in one of the lowest vaccinated states.

Daniel said the big problem with Delta is that it is much more contagious than the kind of Covid we were dealing with a year ago.

“It’s 100 times more contagious than Covid-19 was when it first came out,” Daniel said. “You can get it within one minute of talking to someone who has it. The Delta variant makes up 85 percent of our cases right now. It’s also affecting those who are vaccinated.”

Those who have been vaccinated can have it, not have the symptoms and be spreading it around. Anyone who has not been vaccinated against Covid can get sick enough to require hospitalization.

A county’s positivity rate is the percentage of positive Covid cases among those who have been recently tested. One month ago, Chambers County’s rate was less than two percent. There was reason to believe we had beaten Covid. On Tuesday, Aug. 3, the rate stood at 22.3 percent and rising. It’s gone up more than 20 percent in just four weeks.

“There have been times when every single bed in our hospital was filled,” Daniel said. “We had a Covid-related death this morning.”

Daniel said that 30 hospital employees are out with Covid right now, and most of them have been vaccinated.

They are missing work to keep from spreading the virus.

“We had 26 patients yesterday with Covid,” Daniel said. “We’ve had 36 today.”

Daniel said the Delta variant is showing the importance of getting vaccinated.

“You can get it [if you are vaccinated], but it’s very unlikely you will have to go to the hospital,” Daniel said.

Those who do go to the hospital are often treated with what’s known as monoclonal antibodies.

“At first, we didn’t know how to treat Covid cases,” Daniel said, “but we have learned much more as we have treated it. The monoclonal antibodies have helped lots of patients. Usually, the person who receives an infusion of them will feel much better at the end of the day.”

Those who don’t show such improvement may need more intensive treatment, and some may go on a ventilator.

“We are nowhere close to being out of ventilators,” Daniel said.

Visitations are not being allowed at the hospital right now, but surgeries are still taking place at the ambulatory surgery center.