Delta Variant: Majority of COVID Patients Hospitalized Are Unvaccinated

Just when the tide appeared to be turning in our favor, the delta variant is here and wreaking havoc.

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"The war has changed."

Those were the words from an internal CDC report that says the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox.

The report also confirmed what we've been hearing recently: vaccinated people can get sick themselves and can pass the variant to others, even if they're not showing symptoms. All of this as hospitalization rates continues to rise almost exclusively among the unvaccinated.

Just when the tide appeared to be turning in our favor, the delta variant is here and wreaking havoc.

A new CDC report said the delta variant is more contagious than the common cold and is just as transmissible as chickenpox.

"I remember when chickenpox was like you wanted to get it so you could be exposed to friends," said Dr. Gerard Jenkins, who serves as chief medical officer for the Native American Health Center. "And this is something that is completely different -- it's scary."

Jenkins treats patients in San Francisco and Oakland.

With new information about the COVID-19 delta variant, people are wondering what this means moving forward. NBC Bay Area’s Ian Cull spoke with one of the nation’s leading COVID experts, UCSF Department of Medicine Chair, Dr. Bob Wachter.

New research from the CDC shows vaccinated people infected with the variant can carry tremendous amounts of the virus in their nose and pass the virus to others.

Research also shows the delta variant is more dangerous than the original strain, dramatically increasing the risk of hospitalizations for those who are unvaccinated.

"It's people who are elderly, people with co-morbidities, people with heart failure, hyper tension," Jenkins said. "And then you've got people who are younger, who are college age that are getting sick and very sick."

NBC Bay Area reached out to multiple counties to see how many people are showing up with the delta variant to their hospitals.

Marin County says of 200 COVID patients, only two are vaccinated. Santa Clara County said every COVID patients hospitalized there is unvaccinated or under-vaccinated.

At least 160 people are hospitalized for COVID in Alameda County -- the highest number in any local county -- and most of them are unvaccinated.

John Muir Health in the East Bay said all their COVID patients in the ICU are unvaccainted.

Jenkins does not want to relive 2020, but he said that will all depend on how we respond to the contagious delta variant.

"A lot of different times when I meet with patients and I say 'do you want to get vaccinated?' and they're adamantly against it," he said. "I just remind them that there's still a long way to go."

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