COVID actives up with new variant circulating

Friday, June 18, 2021

Delta variant believed to be dominant strain in area

Barry County added 29 new COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in the last week, and officials say the Delta variant of the virus is now the dominant strain in southwest Missouri.

The Delta variant, first identified in India, shows increased transmissibility and is believed to be the reason for a recent rise in cases in the United Kingdom. It is responsible for about 10.3 percent of the U.S. COVID cases, as of Sunday, according to Dr. Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, whose outbreak.info has been tracking variants throughout the pandemic.

“We have seen quite a surge [in cases and positive tests] recently, which seems consistent with other counties in southwest Missouri,” said David Compton, Barry County Office of Emergency Management director. “Based on the studies and sampling of COVID-positive patients, the Delta variant is the dominant strain right now. It is hitting the non-vaccinated pretty hard.”

Compton said those vaccinated are still catching the variant, as the vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and death at least 94 percent of the time.

“It seems to be effective in preventing severe illness and death,” Compton said. “The majority of patients in critical care are not vaccinated. Vaccinated people can catch all types of COVID, but they absolutely have an advantage when they catch any variant.”

Compton said studies show the Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was first discovered in the UK. The Alpha variant was 50 percent more transmissible than the original strain of the virus.

“Vaccination is important for all,” Compton said. “There seemed to be some early thoughts that the Delta variant is hitting younger people hard, though I'm not sure if that actually correlates to age or vaccination status.”

According to the Barry County Health Department and Barry County Office of Emergency Management, there have been 3,242 (+29) confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.

As of June 16, a total of 32 (+6) people were considered active cases in isolation, and two are hospitalized (-2). There are more than 50 close contacts (even) quarantined in their homes.

No new deaths have occurred since mid-March. The total number of deaths in the county is 59, and all those who have died were at least 41 years old.

Of the deaths, 24 (even) have been residents of congregate care facilities, and 35 (even) lived independently in their homes. A total of 54 (even) suffered from underlying health conditions. Gender-wise, 37 (even) males and 22 (even) females have died.

The death rate, deaths as a percentage of positive cases, in Barry County is 1.8 percent, and the survival rate is 98.2 percent. The mortality rate, deaths as a percentage of the population, for the county is 0.16 percent.

A total of 3,151 people had recovered from the virus, a gain of 23 since June 9.

A total of 28,680 Barry County residents have been tested, equating to 30.9 percent of the county’s population. The 3,242 positives account for 9 percent of the county’s population, and there is an overall positive test rate of 11.30 percent (+.04). The weekly positive test rate is 21.17 percent (+16.68).

Vaccinations initiated in the county, which include people who have received at least the first dose, number 11,068, a gain of 143 and accounting for 30.9 percent of the county’s total population. About 20 percent of the county is comprised of children 16 and under who are not eligible to receive a vaccine, about 7,177 individuals. If those people are not counted, about 38.5 percent of eligible adults have been vaccinated.

Pfizer has also now been approved to vaccinate children 12-and-up, which may add to the overall percentage, as ages of those vaccinated are not broken down. The figure of those eligible for vaccinations is based on an estimation from U.S. Census Bureau figures.

The Lawrence County Health Department said as of June 11, it had 39 active cases (+8 from June 4), 3,598 (+40) total confirmed cases, and a total of 3,457 (+32) people had recovered from the virus. A total of 102 (even) people have died in Lawrence County.

According to Johns Hopkins University tracking, statewide as of June 16, Missouri has had 517,027 confirmed cases and 9,224 deaths, a death rate of 1.8 percent (98.2 percent survival rate). Nationally, there have been 33,489,604 positives and 600,429 deaths, a rate of 1.8 percent (98.2 percent survival rate). State and national recovery figures are not provided.

The mortality rates for the state and nation are 0.15 percent and 0.18 percent, respectively.

Statewide, 2,647,276 people have initiated vaccinations, accounting for 43.1 percent of the total population and 53.5 percent of the population 18-and-over.

The CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System shows 72 events reported where death was a result, possibly in relation to a vaccine. A report is not conclusive evidence the vaccine was the cause of death.

The number of death reports in the state accounts for 0.003 percent of the total number of people vaccinated.

The age ranges of Barry County cases are: People under 25 account for 657 cases (+5), those 25-40 account for 701 cases (+4), those 41-60 account for 978 cases (+14) and those 61-and-over account for 906 cases (+10).

Gender-wise, cases among females went from 1,753 to 1,770, while male cases rose from 1,460 to 1,472.

Community spread continues to be the leading cause with 3,226 attributable cases, and the other 16 (even) are attributed to travel. Multiple area businesses have been affected by COVID-19.

No congregate care facilities have had new cases in the last 13 weeks, and there are no area businesses with more than 10 known active cases.

As of June 16, counties bordering Barry County report the following cases: Lawrence, 3,598; Stone, 2,236; McDonald, 2,121; Newton, 4,479; Benton (Ark.), 22,190; and Carroll (Ark.), 2,394.

Unemployment in Barry County, the most recent data available for which is from April, shows the county has dropped to 3.8 percent, which is 0.1 percent lower than the previous 3.9 percent low in October 2020. In February 2020, it was 4.3 percent, and it peaked in May 2020 at 10 percent.

COVID-19 can appear 2-14 days after exposure, and symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or a new loss of taste or smell.

Anyone who believes they have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home, call a medical provider and wear a mask when near anyone who does not live in the same home.

Barry County Phase 2 Mitigation rules expired March 31, meaning there is no longer a requirement for source control masking of service providers. Physical distancing, cloth face coverings and enhanced hygiene practices are still recommended per CDC guidelines.

For more information about COVID-19, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus, call the Barry County Health Department at 417-847-2114 or call the Missouri DHSS 24 hour hotline number at 877-435-8411.

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