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Local doctor, officials concerned about COVID-19 Delta variant

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 11:09 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Delta variant of COVID-19 has made its way to Region 8, raising concerns among health and civic leaders over how easily it spreads and what needs to be done to stop it.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver says the city is moving cautiously. He says the biggest issue is getting people vaccinated.

“Out of 75 counties, not one is still at 50 percent, so we’ve still got to get that percentage up,” said Copenhaver.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, roughly 31 percent of Craighead County is fully immunized, a major concern with the new Delta variant. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Carl Abraham says this can be especially harmful to Arkansas.

“Because we have such a large portion of our population is still susceptible, and the models show Arkansas will be the one state that has a surge that goes on possibly past October,” said Abraham.

Abraham says if you get both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, it’s almost 90 percent effective against the Delta variant.

“However, if you’ve only gotten one of those doses, which is about 230,000 to 240,000 people in Arkansas, that goes down to about 30 percent,” said Abraham.

He says it’s unknown if the variant is more deadly, but studies suggest it may cause a more severe case, no matter your age.

“Younger people, those who are between 30 and 50, may make up a significant number of people who will end up hospitalized and possibly in the ICU or even worse,” said Abraham.

There’s not much data on the effectiveness of the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines, but the medical community assumes it will have similar protection to Pfizer.

Mayor Copenhaver plans to continue to fight the virus by having vaccine events.

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