Milwaukee health officials say more contagious Delta variant is prevalent in the city

NOW: Milwaukee health officials say more contagious Delta variant is prevalent in the city

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee area health officials say while case numbers here are trending in the right direction, new findings on the Delta variant are concerning them. They're stressing the importance of vaccinations. Doctors say the variant is also affecting young people in some areas of the country. 

"Based on what we've known in terms of how the disease spreads and how the Delta variant -- how contagious it is, it's highly likely it's quite prevalent in the city of Milwaukee," said Kirsten Johnson, Milwaukee health commissioner.

Johnson says two cases of the Delta variant were detected in the county in late May, and it continues to spread. As of Tuesday, Milwaukee is at a low transmission rate with 1.5-percent positivity, but only 45.1-percent of city residents have completed their vaccine series.

"I want everyone to be vaccinated," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "That's the best course of action to protect your friends, your family, your community and yourself."

"Doctors who are in areas where they are seeing more of the Delta variant making notice that it does seem to be affecting young people," says Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer at UW Health.

Dr. Jeff Pothof says while robust data has not come out, some areas of the country are seeing the Delta variant affecting teens and young adults. Experts say there are lower rates of vaccinations in the younger population.

"That naturally leads to much more of whatever variant of the virus is out there hitting younger people, and that's just because less younger people are vaccinated," adds Dr. Ben Weston, associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and medical director at Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Last week, the Delta variant made up six-percent of cases in the U.S. and as of Tuesday, it's responsible for 10-percent of cases. The Delta variant is spreading much quicker than the current dominant B.1.1.7 variant, which originated in the U.K.

"Usually when it hits about 15 or 20-percent is when we see a significant uptick to close to 80-percent within just a few weeks," said Dr. Weston.

"If you're not vaccinated, the world is not yet a safe place for you," adds Dr. Pothof. "COVID is out there, and the variants are getting better at what a virus should do."

The Delta variant isn't only more contagious, doctors say studies have shown it could make you more sick. 

"If you get COVID-19 from the Delta variant, you're over two times as likely to be hospitalized than with normal natural COVID -- so it's making people a fair bit more sick," said Dr. Pothof. 

Studies show with the Delta variant, only one dose of the Pfizer vaccine isn't enough for full protection, doctors say people should make sure they complete both doses when they get vaccinated.

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