Concerns over Delta variant rise as more unvaccinated people contract COVID

Starting Thursday, D.C.’s Department of Health will now require lab partners to do more sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples as concerns rise around the growing Delta variant.

"According to the CDC, approximately 45 percent of new cases in HHS Region 3, which includes DC, are due to the Delta variant," a press release from Mayor Muriel Bowser's officer read.

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A DC Health official speaking at a virtual news conference Thursday told reporters they have confirmed four deaths involving people fully vaccinated. The official also confirmed 200 "breakthrough cases," which involves cases where those fully vaccinated have tested positive for Coronavirus.

Officials say of the four people who died, two received the Moderna vaccine, one received Pfizer and one received the J&J. All four had significant medical history and three of them were over age 65.

That 200 number of "breakthrough cases" is also out of over 375,000 people or around .05 percent, according to D.C. Health. District leaders are pointing at that figure as an example of how – while not full proof – the vaccines make a difference.

Coronavirus cases are rising in the region with Maryland showing around a 76 percent jump in the new case four-day case average going from last week to this week.

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Montgomery County Councilmember Gabe Albornoz told FOX 5 on Thursday, vaccines lag within 18 to 26-year-olds, and within African American populations.

"I think that the facts as they’re coming out now with the fact that over 99 percent people that are dying right now from COVID, particularly because of this variant, are folks that are unvaccinated is certainly proof enough that people should be taking this very seriously," Montgomery County Health and Human Services Committee member, Councilmember Gabe Albornoz.

Virginia saw around a nearly 118 percent jump in the new case four-day average this week compared to last. In Fairfax County, which holds Virginia’s largest school district, the county’s medical epidemiologist told FOX 5 they are seeing higher unvaccinated numbers among lower-income populations, particularly in the Richmond Highway corridor, South and East of the county and in the Alexandria section of Fairfax.

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Dr. Benjamin Schwartz says there are three groups of main concern.

"There is one group that has specific concerns about vaccination that’s worried about safety, excreta and we need to respond to those concerns. And there is a second group of people who feel they’re not at high risk for COVID disease and for whom getting vaccinated is just not their priority," Dr. Schwartz said. "There is a third group of people who is just adamantly against vaccination. And for that group, we also would like to address their concerns, but also importantly talk about other mitigation measures."

In the District. A District health official said there is a large disparity among those 16 and 17-years-old who identify as Black or African American.

D.C. Councilmember Kenyon McDuffie told FOX 5 the same equity issues that presented themselves with vaccination dissemination are still occurring.

"The low youth vaccine rates particularly in wards five, seven and eight, could imperil our ability to really safely resume in-person learning for our students," he told FOX 5.

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Elected officials and health leaders are also concerned about the impact growing cases among the unvaccinated could have on already exhausted hospital staff.

It is important to note while the region has seen a rise in positive Coronavirus cases, other metrics like region positivity rages, are still showing low (below four percent)

Different officials said they are not looking at bringing back restrictions just yet, but some are maybe eyeing potential mask mandates a little more closely.

D.C. Health will be providing a new breakdown of COVID19 variant data on its dashboard every Thursday.