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Doctor says variants, low vaccination rates driving recent COVID-19 surge

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in Chatham County, Dr. Stephen Thacker, associate chief medical officer at Memorial Health, says people have a choice to make.

“The thing that is different than before is how infectious this new variant is to the point where in broad strokes, I would say folks should either expect to get infected from COVID-19 or be protected from a vaccination. Like, I mean, it is so infectious, and the risk is so much higher of being infected in a community where this is that those should really be your two outcomes that you are going to choose for yourself,” Dr. Thacker said.

It’s because of this the CDC changed their guidance on masking, saying everyone in areas with high transmission of COVID-19 should wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status. Dr. Thacker says that applies to us in Georgia as we see cases surging.

“We’re recognizing that even vaccinated individuals can have breakthrough infections with this variant and there is preliminary evidence that they can also share their infection with others and so with that new knowledge we need to advise everyone to continue to mask because we’ve proved during this pandemic that masks work at preventing the spread of this infection,” Dr. Thacker said.

Dr. Thacker is hopeful our local mask mandates will help ease the impact of the delta variant. While he acknowledges the confusion a change in guidance can have, he says it’s a sign the CDC is following the science.

“What they are doing is following the changing evidence out there around this new variant and how it can impact those that are vaccinated and changing recommendations because it’s the safest and most evidence based decision to make at this time,” Dr. Thacker said.

While some may look at this change in guidance and question the vaccine Dr. Thacker notes that those who are vaccinated fair better.

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