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The coronavirus delta variant has spurred a “whole new pandemic,” according to Georgia’s top health official who expressed concern that President Joe Biden is losing the “war” as the level of infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals continues to rise.
“This is very different. This delta variant is like a whole different virus. Just imagine that we have a whole brand new pandemic. And that’s what we have on our hands,” Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said on Thursday during an interview with 11Alive.
Toomey said the coronavirus strain that closed down the country last year is mostly behind us but that the new variant, which was first detected in the United States in March, is stronger and poses additional risks.
“It’s much more contagious, from person to person. More people will become infected from a single individual. You get sick faster, and it seems to make a beeline for people who are unvaccinated,” she continued.
It has also shown to be uniquely affecting mostly unvaccinated younger people between age 20 and 40, who are filling Georgia hospitals.
The public health commissioner said the priority of health officials in her state is on defeating the new pandemic but that she regretfully sees that infections “continue to go up, go up, go up.”
“I’m saddened and just very disappointed,” Toomey said. “These are preventable hospitalizations.”
“It’s going to continue to go up, go up, go up, unless we do something very intensive to mitigate that, try to stop the virus in its tracks. ... At this point, they’re projecting that it’s going to be early September when we see the peak, and that’s a long way from now, and many, many illnesses between now and then,” she added.
The U.S. as a whole is averaging almost 100,000 new cases of the delta variant per day, predominantly among unvaccinated individuals.
The resurgence of the coronavirus has caused cities to reconsider closing down, state and local officials to mandate mask usage in the upcoming school year, and to carry out mandatory testing for all individuals regardless of vaccination status.
It also appears to have caught Biden off guard as the president struggles to combat its spread.
"There are a range of topics in those discussions that are ongoing. The president receives regular briefings on them, but we rely on public health and medical advice on when we're going to determine changes to be made," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday when asked by reporters about vaccine travel mandates.
Psaki reiterated on Wednesday that "the president continues to convey to anyone, as you've said, who wants to come to the United States: Now is not the time to come. It is not the time to come, and try to go through irregular migration.”
"We want to have an effective process where you can apply for asylum, where you can apply for legal status. We have increased our investment in areas like the Central American Minors Program, allowing people to apply from within the country so they are not making that dangerous trip," she continued.
Psaki ultimately admitted that “there is more that needs to be done” on the border situation and the pandemic.
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Original Author: Lawrence Richard