COVID Delta variant prevalent, vaccinations stall

Health officials say 13 cases of the Delta variant out of India have now been identified in Wisconsin. Experts say there are likely many more in the state. 

Despite the lowest disease burden in Milwaukee since the beginning of the pandemic, there are concerns that the vaccination rate is stalling out. 

"We’re up from 42.9% last week to 44.1%. That number I’m not pleased with. I want that number to be higher," Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Local health experts say the numbers are even more troubling... when broken down by race. just 26 percent of black residents are vaccinated… compared to 51 percent of white residents. 

"Certainly we have more work to do in our communities of color," Dr. Ben Weston said.

Community partners have been sending trusted educators into the neighborhoods with the lowest vaccination rates and highest vulnerability rates to encourage vaccine confidence and improve accessibility. 

"We do this is a very nonjudgement way. We just want people to have the information so they can make those decisions," said Lorraine Lathen of Jump the Sun Consultants.

The door-to-door efforts come as a new strain of the virus called the Delta variant threatens to undo the progress already made by the vaccine. 

"I would imagine Wisconsin is probably on par with the rest of the country, which is around 6-7% of the virus is from that Delta strain," said Weston.

More contagious than any previous variants and potentially more severe, doctors remind those who are unvaccinated that they’re putting themselves and children who are too young to be vaccinated at risk. 

"The elementary school-age group of 5 to 11-year-olds has more than twice the positivity rate as compared to the general population in the county," Weston said. "In Milwaukee County, most likely, just about 100 percent of the people who are getting hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated."

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