Coronavirus Delta Variant could spell worries for Latino communities in Colorado and Nevada
With Hispanics continuing to have low vaccination rates across the country they are more at risk of contracting COVID variants.
The Delta COVID-19 variant was first detected in India, but since last week, there have been registered cases of it in all 50 U.S. states.
On Friday, June 25, the World Health Organization urged fully vaccinated people to keep wearing masks and practice other pandemic safety precautions. This is because a large part of the world remains unvaccinated and the variant has proven to still infect those who have received doses.
Delta is also known to be more transmissible than other variants like Alpha, and it has an increased risk of hospitalization.
After recently completing studies, Moderna came out and said that its vaccine is effective against Delta. Israeli officials have also claimed that the Pfizer vaccine is 64% effective against the strain, but remains over 90% successful at preventing severe illness.
Prior to large festivities that took place during the Fourth of July weekend, there were two states with sizable Latino populations where the Delta variant was spreading at alarming rates.
In Nevada, the Delta variant makes up nearly a quarter of new COVID-19 cases and it has become the most common form of the virus in recent weeks.
The Silver state’s masks were dropped immediately after the Center for Diseases Control issued a guidance update on May 13 that claimed that fully vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear a face covering in most settings.
If these numbers continue, Governor Steve Sisolak will have a tough job convincing the people of his state to mask up again after living with them for over a year.
He has already sought federal assistance to help slow his state’s worrying trend and prevent the gambling hub Las Vegas from shutting down again. The request came days after Nevada received $2.7 billion from the American Rescue Plan.
The additional funds would be used to increase vaccination sites, as the state ranks 34th nationwide when it comes to fully vaccinated residents, with a rate of 42.4%.
According to Census data, Latinos and Hispanics represent almost 30% of the state's population, but only slightly over a third of them have been vaccinated. This is three points behind their white counterparts and 15 behind the local Asian community.
Access to the vaccine no longer seems as great an issue as it once was, but misinformation about its effects as well as needing to show documentation to obtain a dose still linger.
Colorado is another state where the COVID variant has been worrying local health officials. Hispanics and Latinos make up 21.8% of its total population.
Unlike Nevada, the Centennial State ranks in the top 15 nationwide for fully vaccinated populations, with over 52% of their residents being immunized.
Only a quarter of the Hispanic population had received a vaccine as of June 28, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. By this time, White and Black populations in Colorado were well ahead, with vaccination rates of 44% and 58% respectively.
With Delta ravaging through unvaccinated communities, it is concerning for Latinos that 75% of all new cases in the state are traced to the more transmissible variant.
Despite the rapid pace with which Colorado has administered shots, they place fourth for states with the worst COVID-19 death rates, with 5.31 deaths per 100,000. The CDC blames the variants for increased deaths across the country.
Colorado is only behind Michigan, West Virginia and Georgia, all states with worse vaccination rates.
Most new cases and deaths are coming from Mesa County, which has a vaccination rate of just above 40%.
Latino communities have to continue to combat misinformation about the vaccine and offer more sites to receive the shots before they continue to suffer the impacts of the pandemic.