SAN LUIS VALLEY — The Delta variant is changing the pandemic situation, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. We can think of Delta as a boxing opponent that moves more easily and hits harder than previous strains of the virus. It is possible for even vaccinated people to spread the virus, although they are still much less likely to spread it than unvaccinated people.
The CDC’s new guidelines, intended to help people make informed decisions based on the latest science, recommend that unvaccinated people wear a mask indoors in public. And now, due to the increased risk presented by the Delta variant, vaccinated people who live in areas of high or substantial transmission are also advised to wear a mask. According to CDC data (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker), nearly all of the San Luis Valley is an area of high or substantial transmission. Additionally, a large part of the surrounding counties and states also have high transmission rates. CDC data is a few days behind what is happening on the ground, and the outlook may change as data is updated.
In a meeting of San Luis Valley Public Health Directors Thursday morning, there was broad support to encourage increased caution consistent with new CDC guidance, although at this time CDPHE and local public health departments in the San Luis Valley have not issued official rule changes for the general public based on the new federal guidance.
Vaccines are more important than ever to protect yourself and others. Vaccines provide protection against all strains of the virus, including Delta, but it is not 100%. According to the CDC, a vaccinated person is 20 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID, and 7 times less likely to get sick with COVID than an unvaccinated person. The vast majority of the spread of the virus is happening between unvaccinated people. Low vaccination rates leave the door open for another variant to develop that is even better than Delta at evading our preventative measures.
If you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you should err on the side of caution and follow precautions for unvaccinated people until you are advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.
There were 62 known active cases of COVID-19 in the San Luis Valley as of Thursday.
* Alamosa County - 23
* Conejos County - 8
* Costilla County - 3
* Mineral County - 10
* Rio Grande County - 12
* Saguache County - 6
For more information on where to get your vaccine in the San Luis Valley, see www.slvphp.com/vaccination or call 719-480-8719.