‘A customized pandemic for the unvaccinated:’ Doctors urge more Texans to get vaccinated as Delta variant spreads

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Over the weekend, five fully-vaccinated Texas representatives who fled to Washington, D.C. last week tested positive for COVID-19. At the same time, Texas hit a positivity rate above 10% for the first time since February.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer went to our nation’s capital to fight for voting rights, and now finds himself battling Covid from a hotel room.

“I was like, I couldn’t believe it,” the San Antonio Democrat said Monday. He said he tested negative Friday and Saturday, and then ahead of a staff meeting Sunday afternoon, his rapid test came back positive.

Rep. Martinez said his symptoms have been mild since then, and attributes that to being fully vaccinated.

“I have talked to people who have had COVID without the benefit of a vaccine, and I don’t want that episode for me, or anybody I know. It sounds horrible,” Rep. Martinez explained.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said the Delta variant is accounting for the majority of new cases in Texas, but is only severely affecting the unvaccinated.

That’s why doctors like Dr. Rodney Young with Texas Tech Physicians is urging Texans who are not yet vaccinated to get the shot.

“The Delta variant is likely going to be a customized pandemic for the unvaccinated,” Dr. Young said.

The main concern with the new variant is that it’s more transmissible.

“Original COVID, we estimated that in an unvaccinated group of people, one person would probably infect something like 2.5 other individuals. Well, with Delta, that number appears to be something like four or greater,” Dr. Young explained.

“The data on new cases and hospitalizations really bears that out,” DSHS spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said Monday. “We have seen both new cases and hospitalizations roughly double over the last two to three weeks.”

So far, none of the 22 trauma service areas in the state have risen above the threshold the Governor set for county judges to reinstate COVID mitigation strategies.

That trigger would be 15% of the region’s hospitalizations are COVID-19 patients for one week straight.

If we do reach that trigger, the Governor’s current order specifies any response would not allow local leadership to restrict business capacity to lower than 50%. Additionally, no governmental body could enforce penalties for those who do not wear a face mask.

DSHS and doctors agree the best way to avoid that mark is to get more shots in arms, especially with kids heading back to the classroom this fall.

“The second dose is administered three weeks after the first dose, and you were considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose. So that’s five weeks from now. So if you’re contemplating vaccinating your teenager, before they go back to school, now is the time,” Dr. Young said.

Rep. Martinez said he hopes his breakthrough case gets through to others.

“If the price I pay for doing my fight here in Washington, DC, just to be sidelined for a few days with a low-grade fever, you know what, I’m very thankful that, that my family and I, we made the decision collectively to get vaccinated,” said Martinez. “So this is an opportunity for everybody. To the procrastinators, the naysayers, the folks who say it doesn’t work, take it from me. Vaccines work.”

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