Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Delta variant changed the game, Erie official says

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2021

No mention of natural immunity. If most of us get covid, asymptomatic or not, have our immune systems done their work negating the need for so called vaccines? Move along. Nothing to see here.

Did you get tested for covid when you went in for that broken finger?

Covid cash talks.

Jim Martin


There could soon be a new word to describe the community transmission of COVID-19 in Erie County.

The word is substantial.

Erie County isn’t there yet, but it is edging quickly in that direction, Charlotte Berringer, R.N., director of community health services for the Erie County Department of Health, said in an interview with the Erie Times-News.

Based on its population, in order to be classified as an area of substantial community transmission, Erie County would have to confirm 135 new cases in a week. With 21 new cases on Monday and 23 on Sunday, Erie County had re-

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ported 81 cases in four days.

“We are rapidly advancing toward the substantial level,” Berringer said.

Trigger for a CDC indoor mask mandate?

But why now, as the vaccination rate in Erie continues to slowly climb?

Most health experts believe the difference is the Delta variant, which spreads more readily.

“Delta has changed the game,” Berringer said. Although they aren’t likely to become very sick, a fully vaccinated person “can spread it like anyone else,” putting the unvaccinated at risk.

If Erie County does move from a moderate to a substantial level of community transmission — Crawford County already is classified as substantial — it would trigger a change in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

A county is classified as having substantial community spread if the number of new cases in the past seven days exceeds 50 cases per 100,000 population. As of Wednesday morning, Erie County reported 40.78 new cases per 100,000, according to the CDC.

CDC guidelines suggest when community spread is classified as substantial, everyone, vaccinated or not, should wear a mask indoors, Berringer said. She said it wouldn’t be up to her to determine if Erie County implemented a mask mandate.

Although Gov. Tom Wolf said last week that he was not considering another statewide mask mandate, Berringer does believe that masks are effective.

“They are annoying but we know they work,” she said.

A change in status to substantial spread could actually prove helpful to local residents facing possible eviction from their rental properties.

President Joe Biden’s administration issued a targeted moratorium Tuesday on evictions in areas where the COVID- 19 transmission is classified as substantial or high. This comes after a nationwide freeze on evictions expired Saturday.

Vaccination rate rises slightly

Berringer said she was pleased to see there was a slight uptick in the number of new vaccinations in Erie County last week as the number of new vaccines grew from 1,594 to 1,797, reversing a monthlong pattern of decline.

But there is a long way to go, she said, noting that the number of fully vaccinated residents continues to hover around 50% “The biggest public health concern is there remains a large pool of people who are unvaccinated,” Berringer said. “The virus will continue to do what viruses naturally do. And that is: Continue to change. If one of those (new) variants would be resistant to the vaccine then we are starting all over again.”

For now, it’s the Delta variant that’s being blamed for much of the spread.

Although there has been little testing for the variants in Erie County or Pennsylvania, the Delta variant is thought to be responsible for 80% of the new cases nationally, she said.

Berringer said she remains hopeful that vaccine numbers will continue to grow.

“We have the power as individuals and as a community to get this pandemic under control,” she said. “Vaccine is one of the tools.”

Contact Jim Martin at 814-870-1668 or Follow him on Twitter @ETNMartin.

Charlotte Berringer, R.N., is director of community health services for the Erie County Department of Health. GREG WOHLFORD

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