Only a few months ago, the Delta Variant was detected in the US. Unfortunately, this new strain has caused an uptick in COVID-19 cases, and it is now the dominant variant among new reported cases.
From March through May, COVID-19 infection rates had dropped considerably, mainly due to the number of vaccinations, increased safety procedures and increased disinfection methods.
This allowed many governments and businesses to loosen their restrictions and it provided some hope of returning to a relative form of normalcy.
Do you want to present your employees with a healthy and safe facility when they come to the office? Check out Flagship’s free resource: Reopen Responsibly, A "New Normal" Guide for Safe and Healthy Workplaces.
The Delta timeline
On May 22, the first Delta Variant strain was found in the US. In the first month, the number of Delta Variant cases tripled. The CDC also declared the Delta Variant a variant of concern.
Now, as July comes to a close, and with approximately eight weeks of the Delta Variant being tracked on US soil, it is now the variant in over 83% of reported cases, according to the New York Times.
Why is it dangerous?
The Delta Variant is considered a “hypertransmissible” variant. It has a higher contagion rate, spreading 2-3 times faster than the original version, and often causes more severe symptoms. This is because the variant grows more rapidly inside one’s respiratory tracts and to much higher levels. The Delta Variant has also caused more “breakthrough” cases and it’s causing vaccinated communities to not only experience symptoms, but also contribute to the viral spread of the variant.
Studies have shown that, on average, the symptoms that vaccinated communities are experiencing are much less severe than unvaccinated communities. However, early studies are also showing that the variant can be transmissible from vaccinated-to-vaccinated or vaccinated-to-unvaccinated.
This can be even more dangerous to unvaccinated communities, because vaccinated symptoms can be easily mistaken for allergies, gastrointestinal issues, or many other common ailments that individuals experience.
Who is at the most risk?
Recent studies show that children and young adults were 2.5 times more likely to catch the Delta variant. That may be due to many variables, including the proclivity to gather in larger crowds or be in the same household with multiple generations.
These groups also include many that are unable to be vaccinated – namely children under 12 years old who are not currently eligible. This may make things more difficult for childcare centers and educational establishments.
What can be done?
Luckily, we have all become very knowledgeable about ways to combat COVID-19. The Delta Variant is not different in that manner.
The best way to keep occupants safe is to continue the same practices we’ve learned over the past 18 months.
- Continue to promote handwashing and keeping a safe distance from others.
- Encourage anyone that experiences symptoms like fever, gastrointestinal issues, sore throat or runny nose to stay home. You can also include the symptoms of the original strain, including cough, fatigue, loss of taste and/or smell.
- Disinfect key touchpoint areas throughout the facility on a regular basis, use EPA-approved disinfectants and encourage employees to disinfect high-touch areas before and after they use them.
- Improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) and ventilation within the facility and include IAQ technology (ultraviolet light, air ionization, high filtration, high ventilation and humidity control), when possible. These improvements will not completely remove all airborne particulates, but they can improve your IAQ, as well as on the operation of the HVAC system.
- Go beyond current safety guidelines and encourage mask-wearing (especially in unknown or mixed-vaccination groups).
- Offer incentives to employees to become vaccinated or to share their vaccination information. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can require employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and offer incentives to employees to voluntarily provide proof or documentation of vaccination.
Remember, vaccine efficacy is not 100%, and you and your employees should be aware of the risks, especially as the new Delta Variant spreads.
For more helpful ideas and tips for reopening and operating a facility in this “new normal”, check out Reopen Responsibly, A "New Normal" Guide for Safe and Healthy Workplaces.
If you are ramping up, getting ready to reopen, preparing to open at full capacity, or have questions and concerns about next steps for your facility, Flagship can help. We can prepare your facility, offer you guidance, bring expertise, adapt as things change, and ensure your workplace runs smoothly every day.