‘The War Has Changed,’ CDC Document Warns COVID Delta Variant Just As Contagious As Chickenpox

The Delta coronavirus variant surging across the United States appears to spread as easily as chickenpox, according to the CDC.

‘The War Has Changed,’ CDC Document Warns COVID Delta Variant Just As Contagious As Chickenpox

(CNN) — The Delta coronavirus variant surging across the United States appears to cause more severe illness and spread as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal document from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The document — a slide presentation — outlines unpublished data that shows fully vaccinated people might spread the Delta variant at the same rate as unvaccinated people.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky confirmed the authenticity of the document, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

“I think people need to understand that we’re not crying wolf here. This is serious,” she told CNN.

“It’s one of the most transmissible viruses we know about. Measles, chickenpox, this — they’re all up there.”

The CDC is scheduled to publish data Friday that will back Walensky’s controversial decision to change guidance for fully vaccinated people. She said Tuesday the CDC was recommending that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in places where transmission of the virus is sustained or high.

And she said everyone in schools — students, staff and visitors — should wear masks at all times.

“The measures we need to get this under control — they’re extreme. The measures you need are extreme,” Walensky told CNN.

She said the data in the report did not surprise her. “It was the synthesis of the data all in one place that was sobering,” she said.

The CDC presentation says the Delta variant is about as transmissible as chickenpox, with each infected person, on average, infecting eight or nine others. The original lineage was about as transmissible as the common cold, with each infected person passing the virus to about two other people on average.

That infectivity is known as R0.

“When you think about diseases that have an R0 of eight or nine — there aren’t that many,” Walensky told CNN.

And if vaccinated people get infected anyway, they have as much virus in their bodies as unvaccinated people. That means they’re as likely to infect someone else as unvaccinated people who get infected.

“The bottom line was that, in contrast to the other variants, vaccinated people, even if they didn’t get sick, got infected and shed virus at similar levels as unvaccinated people who got infected,” Dr. Walter Orenstein, who heads the Emory Vaccine Center and who viewed the documents, told CNN.

But vaccinated people are safer, the document indicates.

“Vaccines prevent more than 90% of severe disease, but may be less effective at preventing infection or transmission,” it reads. “Therefore, more breakthrough and more community spread despite vaccination.”

It says vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease or death 10-fold and reduce the risk of infection three-fold.

The presentation also cites three reports that indicate the Delta variant — originally known as B.1.617.2 — might cause more severe disease.

The CDC, the document advises, should “acknowledge the war has changed.” It recommends vaccine mandates and universal mask requirements.

The virus is once against surging across the US — especially in areas where fewer people are vaccinated.

The US averaged more than 61,300 new daily cases over the last week — an average that’s generally risen since the country hit a 2021 low of 11,299 daily cases on June 22, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

“The number of cases we have now is higher than any number we had on any given day last summer,” Walensky told CNN.

As of Wednesday, cases have risen in all but one state in the past seven days compared with the week before, according to Johns Hopkins.

“The one thing I will say is I’ve been heartened in the past couple of days to see more people taking action in response to the fact that it’s bad — more organizations, businesses, states, localities taking the action that’s needed to get us out of this,” Walensky said.

The CDC document walks through new “communication challenges” as a result of breakthrough infections, along with the need to retool public health messaging to highlight vaccination as the best defense against the Delta variant.

The agency should “improve (the) public’s understanding of breakthrough infections” and “improve communications around individual risk among vaccinated,” it says.

Earlier Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a number of new steps his administration will take to try to get more Americans vaccinated, including requiring that all federal employees must attest to being vaccinated against Covid-19 or face strict protocols.

“This is an American tragedy. People are dying — and will die — who don’t have to die. If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die,” Biden said during remarks at the White House. “Read the news. You’ll see stories of unvaccinated patients in hospitals, as they’re lying in bed dying from Covid-19, they’re asking, ‘Doc, can I get the vaccine?’ The doctors have to say, ‘Sorry, it’s too late.’ ”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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Residents Begin To Clean Up, Access Damage After Two Tornados Touch Down In Bucks County Leaving Path Of Destruction

Thursday's severe weather outbreak was the worst the region has seen in recent history.

Residents Begin To Clean Up, Access Damage After Two Tornados Touch Down In Bucks County Leaving Path Of Destruction

TREVOSE, Pa. (CBS) – Two confirmed tornados touched down in Bucks County on Thursday night. We’re now getting a better look at the damage as residents and businesses begin to pick up the pieces after a night of wild weather.

Thursday’s severe weather outbreak was the worst the region has seen in recent history. There were 14 tornado warnings across the region, and at least two were confirmed in Bucks County.

In Trevose, a twister tore a car dealership into pieces. We’re now seeing dramatic video from inside the showroom, seconds after the tornado hit.

Chopper 3 was over the scene where you can see part of the roof of the showroom is completely gone. Out in the parking lot, the cars didn’t fare any better. Many were pushed around and banged into each other. There is shattered glass everywhere.

One car was picked up, flipped over, and slammed down on top of other cars.

Moments before the tornado struck Faulker Auto on Street Road, workers scrambled to the bathroom to escape the danger. The man who shot the video said it was absolutely terrifying.

This tornado touched down just after 7 p.m. Thursday and left a path of destruction in its wake.

Bensalem’s Director of Public Safety tells CBS3 the tornado touched down in the township along the Old Lincoln Highway corridor. He says it came up near Neshaminy Mall and went down through the Penn Valley Trailer Park, the Turnpike, Street Road, crossing over to the Linconia section, the Concord Park section, and to Faulkner.

Trees were been snapped in half and a bunch of light poles have been pushed over. Some of them bent as if they’re not made out of metal.

It was a terrifying experience for people inside the business.

Four people were hurt, but not badly.

The timing of this storm was key. Had it hit a few hours earlier, the area would have been packed with people.

“The Faulkner area looked like a TV show like a bomb went off. It is gone,” Bensalem Police Department Director of Public Safety Fred Harran said. “Water flowing, you could smell gas until PECO was able to get out there and shut things, secure things. I’ve been doing this for 34 years and I’ve never seen that kind of devastation from a storm. We have power outages in this area that I described earlier. PECO is doing a great job trying to get power back on, and we’re trying to work with PennDOT dot to get the roads cleaned up… That area has a lot of traffic, but we’re still having a hard time getting the roads cleaned up.”

Harran goes on to say, “As you know in the last 15 days, this is the third storm to hit Bensalem Township. The first one started on July 12, the devastating flooding then one that Saturday now again today [Thursday], 15 days later from the first one.”

Damage assessment will continue through the day Friday. At this point, it is unclear just how many homes were damaged but clearly a whole lot of damage to clean up,  and then simply rebuilt.

In the meantime, the Red Cross has set up a shelter at Neshaminy High School. It will remain open throughout the day Friday for people who need information and resources.

CBS3’s Jan Carabeo contributed to this story. 

Source : CBS Philadelphia More   

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