As the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to become the predominant strain of the virus (over 80% of the cases in July), the CDC has come out with an updated list of recommendations to keep people safe and healthy.

First, the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated. Even though we have seen some breakthrough cases, it is a minimal number compared to those vaccinated. In addition, vaccinated people have a lower risk of getting ill, becoming hospitalized, or dying. Vaccination is also key to staying ahead of the virus continuing to change.

Second, data is showing that the Delta variant is much more contagious than the original virus. It spreads twice as easily from person to person; people have higher viral loads, meaning more virus in their body; and people with breakthrough cases of the Delta variant might be infectious and potentially spread the virus to others, in contrast to the first (Alpha) strain. Geary County is currently classified as having a high level of community transmission.

Based on new data and risk of transmission, the CDC recommends that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear a mask when in public indoor settings to prevent spread of the Delta variant and protect others. They are also recommending masks for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination.

The state monitors the vaccination rates through a program called WebIZ. It is reported in this program whenever anyone gets vaccinated, be it COVID or any other vaccination. However, several entities do not report through this program—the military and the VA, for example. This affects the numbers reported for Geary County. As a result, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment recommended using the CDC website to get an accurate reflection of the county vaccination numbers since everyone, including the VA and military, is required to report their numbers to them. In a review of the data, 45.1% of the total population of Geary County is vaccinated against COVID, while 59.3% of the eligible population, those 12 years of age and older, are fully vaccinated.

If you want to receive your COVID vaccine, the Health Department has all three available: Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer. We offer them on a walk-in basis from 8 to 4:45 Monday through Thursday, 8 to 11:30 on Friday, and closed from 12 to 1.

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