Delta Variant hits Hershey community

Sophia Tunks, Reporter

Even though the world has just found ways to prevent COVID-19 in the long run, the delta variant, a new COVID-19 mutation, has recently created struggles and uncertainties for many, including the state of school and their social life. 

The delta variant is a highly dangerous and contagious strain of COVID-19 brought to the U.S. during this past year.

Jessica Ericson, a Pediatric Infectious Disease doctor at Penn State Heath said, “The delta variant is considered more dangerous because it is about 50% more contagious than the “Alpha strain, or the original strain of COVID-19.” 

Many also consider the variant to be more dangerous because it seems to target younger age groups. Hershey Med Center is seeing a lot more children in the hospital and on a ventilator, and health experts are still unsure if it is a difference in the virus or if it is just because young people have not gotten vaccinated yet. 

Most of Penn State Health’s COVID-19 patients have been infected with the Delta Variant as well as the Alpha strain. Inci Yildirim, MD, PhD, a Yale Medicine pediatric infectious diseases specialist and vaccinologist, said that, “The delta variant accounts for more than 99% of COVID-19 cases in most hospitals today.” 

Ericson said, “We don’t test every person for the delta variant. We test a sample—say 100 people a week. About 80% of those tests come back positive.” 

The patients infected with the delta variant have been considerably more ill than those infected with the alpha strain. “More people infected at Hershey Medical Center have been in the hospital and on oxygen,” said Ericson. The symptoms, however, are about the same as the familiar ones—headache, sore throat, cough, and fever. If you have any cold-like symptoms, going to get tested for COVID-19 is highly recommended. 

Because of the fairly recent introduction of the delta variant to Hershey, many wonder if this school year and social life around Hershey will become uncertain.

Ericson said, “The safety measures that schools require for students is what will keep them in school. Schools that are doing nothing are at much higher risk of having to shut down because of case numbers.” 

Because of the way Hershey High School has organized their Covid precautions, I think that there will be little to no shut-downs. Wearing masks during the day is the best way for schools to prevent mass quarantining.” Ericson also said that most places around Hershey will most likely not shut down. 

Although the delta variant is considerably more contagious, and therefore much more dangerous than the alpha strain, it is predicted that there will not be as many mass shutdowns as the past two years. Hershey’s social life and the school year will probably not be too affected by the delta variant because of the safety precautions the school has taken and the high number of vaccinated people in and around Hershey.

“There is a very high vaccination rate in Hershey, most likely because it is a medical school town, “Ericson said. “Having a high number of people whoare vaccinated will help [decrease] the amount of future shut-downs.”