By Primary Health Clinical Director
We are currently in the fourth wave of COVID-19 in our country. This wave has already brought more daily cases than the first and second waves. Idaho cases are surging, with daily case counts matching levels from last winter. We all desperately want to be done with this pandemic, but it is not over yet.
More freedoms this summer lowered our sense of urgency as a community. We felt great for a brief time, but this virus is changing. The new Delta variant has “changed the war” on COVID and each of us must realize we still have a part to play to keep ourselves and our community safe. That includes getting tested for COVID when we have been exposed or have symptoms, even if fully vaccinated.
Patients who seek care for COVID symptoms or exposure at Primary Health will be strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID, even if they are fully vaccinated. Testing is critical when it comes to understanding how the virus is spreading, so patients can isolate as necessary and health care providers can plan for community needs.
High Transmission Rates in Ada, Canyon Counties
The CDC tracks the transmission of COVID in our communities by tracking each county’s case rate. As of today, 80% of all US counties are in either substantial or high community transmission. Ada and Canyon counties are both in “red” or high transmission. This is an alarming and important thing to know. When transmission in our area is high, it is likely that our clinics and hospitals will be overloaded with COVID patients. This is not a good situation to be in.
Daily reported COVID cases in Idaho
Source: New York Times with data from state and local health agencies and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Delta Variant
The reason we are again in a critical COVID-19 situation is because of the Delta variant. This variant has exploded around the country in just two months’ time. What we knew about COVID has changed with Delta. Delta is at least two times more contagious than prior strains, and it causes similar viral loads in both unvaccinated and vaccinated people, which means, even if vaccinated, you can still get COVID and still spread it to others.
To all vaccinated people:
- Breakthrough cases (COVID cases in fully vaccinated people) are more common with the Delta variant. While this is frustrating, it is expected by health experts. You are far less likely to face hospitalization or death because you are vaccinated.
- COVID testing is critical to understanding the spread and amount of disease in the community so we can take appropriate steps to protect the public and ensure availability of medical services.
- All people, vaccinated or not, should get tested for COVID if they have any symptoms or close contacts with COVID.
- Mask use is still needed because of the Delta variant. Masking and following other safety measures will help keep our businesses and schools open, and will prevent disease spread.
For unvaccinated people:
- Vaccination remains our number one tool to stopping this pandemic; it is safe, effective and smart.
- We all must do our part in this pandemic. Getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, social distancing and handwashing are all tools that we know work.
COVID Testing and Vaccine Services
Primary Health offers COVID testing and vaccine services at multiple locations across the Treasure Valley. Our clinics are open 7 days a week and no appointment is needed. Please come in to get vaccinated if you aren’t already, or walk in for care the next time you feel ill or have been exposed to COVID.