Health Care

CDC Memo Reveals Troubling New Science On Delta Variant

A new CDC memo warns the Delta variant is as contagious as the chicken pox. It raises urgent new questions about what activities are safe.

CDC Memo Reveals Troubling New Science On Delta Variant
Susan Walsh / AP

"You don't screw around with this virus. This variant can kill you," Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said.  

    “The war has changed” —that’s the latest warning from the CDC in a new document detailing the dangers of the Delta variant, which scientists now say spreads as easily as the chicken pox.  

The internal document, reported by multiple news outlets, changes what we thought we knew about COVID. Turns out, Delta is so contagious, even vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to others.

As for the vaccines, the science still shows they protect most people against severe COVID symptoms. And most of those cases are mild or asymptomatic. Hospitalizations and death are rare-about 5600 cases out of more than 162 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated.  

"It's truly not something that you see very frequently. And when I say rare, it's usually less than one percent," said Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention at UC Health.

The report also affirms the value of wearing masks. But urgent new questions are emerging about whether everyday activities are still safe. Like indoor dining and sending kids back to school, especially in districts with no mask mandate.  

"It is irresponsible to think that it's ok to bring people together and not care about people dying, people losing their lives," Broward County School Board Chair Rosalin Osgood told parents at a contentious school board meeting Thursday. 

The CDC director warning this week that the new science emerging is troubling.

"The viral load of the unvaccinated people is indistinguishable from the breakthrough infections from the vaccinated people," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.