Delta variant prompting a shift in behaviors to keep virus in check

Coronavirus Local Impact

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Delta variant, the strongest COVID-19 strain so far, has prompted changes with COVID-19 guidelines.

The CDC now recommends masks for anyone in indoor public spaces where the virus spread is considered “substantial” or “high risk.” They admitted that this shift was partly in response to the Provincetown outbreak.

“You’re seeing science and this virus playing out in real time,” said Jennifer O’Malley, a health care worker from East Sandwich. “I don’t really think we know what to expect.”

About 75 percent of people infected in Provincetown were fully vaccinated, showing that the variant can be spread easily among vaccinated people with breakthrough infections.

Even if you’re vaccinated, the CDC says you should have a mask in certain settings and some employers are enforcing them again. For instance, Walmart is re-implementing a mask mandate for employees, in areas where the Delta variant is surging. It’s a recommendation for shoppers. They even posted this sign at the entrance to encourage mask wearing inside the store, since its in an area of substantial risk.

O’Malley has already made it a habit. She told 22News, “My mindset was to never take off my mask. If you don’t feel you can’t protect the ones you love and the ones you need to be around, you need to wear a mask.”

Another concern for her is the long-haulers, people who could potentially suffer permanently from the virus.

“It’s not just this virus you get over, nobody knows the long term effects and a lot of people are suffering from that already,” O’Malley continued. “Why would you want to put yourself out there at risk for that?”

Nearly all of the breakthrough Delta cases in Provincetown were mild, thanks to the vaccine.

When you look at the state’s vaccination map, 50 percent of Hampden County’s population is fully vaccinated, which means one out of two people are vulnerable, and even more so with the Delta variant.

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