Silver Cross Infection Prevention Expert Discusses Delta Variant

“If you’ve been hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, now is the perfect time to get one,” says Dr. Atul Gupta, Medical Director of Infection Protection at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. is once again seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. As of July 22, 35% of U.S. counties are experiencing high levels of community transmission.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in nearly 90% of U.S. jurisdictions, with outbreaks in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage. These worrisome trends are due, in part, to the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

“The Delta variant started in India and has spread all over the world. It has become the dominant strain in Europe,” he said in a recent video on Silver Cross Hospital’s YouTube channel. It’s believed to be twice as contagious as the coronavirus we had here last year. And data is showing it causes more severe disease and leads to higher rates of hospitalization.  Almost exclusively, some 90 percent, of the Delta cases reported are from those who have not been vaccinated. The good news is the vaccines we have are very effective against the Delta virus.”

There are some differences in symptoms between the coronavirus and the Delta variant.

Dr. Gupta said those suffering from the Delta variant often have more headaches, stuffy noses, and sore throats. Those symptoms can be tricky, Dr. Gupta added, because they mimic allergies problematic this time of year. But virus sufferers also will have the other symptoms -- fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste and smell with an increased chance of being more severe and spreading more easily.

For younger children unable to be vaccinated, Dr. Gupta advises to keep them apart from those who have coronavirus or who haven’t been vaccinated. They should also wear masks.

“Outdoor activities are much safer than indoor activities,” he said. “Each family has to assess its own risk profile.”

“While masking and social distancing will help,” Dr. Gupta said, “by and far, the most effective way to prevent the spread of the Delta virus is through vaccinations.”

“If you have been hesitant, we’ve given the vaccine to hundreds of millions of people in the United States alone. We know for a fact the vaccines are extremely safe. The risk of getting a blood clot from COVID is 20 times higher than getting it from the vaccine. Now is the perfect time.”

Since the pandemic arrived in Will County more than 16 months ago, Silver Cross has performed more than 73,600 COVID-19 tests, treated over 2,500 COVID inpatients and distributed more than 33,00 COVID-19 vaccines.

For more information or a referral to a physician on the Silver Cross medical staff, visit www.silvercross.org. To find a COVID-19 vaccination clinic near you, visit willcountyhealth.org/vaccine-locations/.