COVID-19 in Gasconade County
New diagnoses of COVID-19 in Gasconade County nearly doubled from those I reported last week (highest we've had in 6 months), with 42 new lab confirmed cases last week (19 by PCR and 23 by rapid antigen testing). Nearly all (95%) of the positive tests that have undergone genomic analysis in Missouri are Delta COVID. You may have heard of "Delta Plus", which refers to some of the subtypes of Delta that have been identified. In the most recent samples tested from Missouri, nearly half are "original" Delta (B.1.617.2) and the other half are the subtype AY.3 (with much smaller percentages of AY.1 and AY.2). Missouri has the highest percentage of the AY.3 subtype of Delta COVID. While this subtype of Delta has additional mutations, early data does not seem to suggest it is more contagious, more likely to cause severe disease, or that vaccines will be less effective in preventing severe disease with it, but this is being monitored closely.
The Gasconade County PCR-Only Positive Rate, was slightly increased (to 13%), with 35% more tests performed last week (522 people were tested and had their results reported to the state).
To reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public, even if you are fully vaccinated, if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission (that is, more than 50 new cases of COVID diagnosed in the last 7 days per 100,000 people). As of Friday, Gasconade County had nearly 6 times that level of transmission. Please consider wearing a mask to protect yourself and others, even if you are vaccinated, while indoors in public until the rate of transmission drops to a safer level.
The FDA is expected to authorize a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals with severely weakened immune systems in the next couple of weeks. Most likely this will include people who have had an organ transplant and those undergoing certain types of treatment (eg, some cancer treatments), and may even include certain age groups. In addition, the FDA is expected to grant full FDA approval to at least some of the currently available vaccines in the next few weeks. Moderna and J&J vaccines continue to be authorized for people 18 and over, while the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people 12 and over. The CDC reports 85 more residents of Gasconade county became fully vaccinated last week, bringing us to 40% that are fully vaccinated. Even more encouraging is that another 893 individuals have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Studies continue to show that current FDA authorized vaccines are highly effective at preventing complicated disease, hospitalization and death against the Delta and other COVID variants, but it takes over 5 weeks for full immunity to develop after the first shot. PLEASE sign up for a vaccine as soon as possible.
COVID-19 Vaccination in Gasconade County*
*Data from covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view on 8/9/21.
Michael Rothermich, MD
Chief of Staff