Delta Variant Leads to Rising Positivity Rates, Consequences Felt Locally

Students+eat+lunch+outside+in+the+district%27s+attempt+to+minimize+COVID-19+spread.

Annabel Carr

Students eat lunch outside in the district’s attempt to minimize COVID-19 spread.

Logan Roever, Staff Writer

The Delta variant, now the most prominent strain of COVID-19 in the US, has caused positivity rates in local areas to rise, raising concerns for local hospitals and schools.  

The Delta variant is two times more contagious than previous strains, and it is more likely to cause severe illness in unvaccinated people of all ages, says the CDC.

According to the CDC database, the positivity rate in Madison County has risen to 9.67%, nearly two percent greater than the previous percentage used to determine the safety of in-person learning. 

The increase in cases has led to an overflow of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, like HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, Illinois.

“We don’t have the bed capacity or the staff for [surgery] patients to stay overnight,” cardiac sonographer Nikki Angulo says. “We have to make sure we’re keeping bed availability for those who are coming in through the ER.” 

She says that within one 10 hour shift there have been anywhere from 30 to 76 patients waiting for treatment. Prior to this surge, she saw 10 to 30. 

“This has been an internal disaster for the hospital,” Angulo says. “We’re seeing an influx in patients and we’re still not adequately staffed.” 

The difference from last year’s surge is the vaccine, which has now been FDA approved. Angulo says this feels like “a little light at the end of the tunnel.” 

With the flu season approaching, she says that it is important to continue healthy practices, like frequent hand-washing and surface sanitization. 

The potential of managing the incoming flu season on top of Delta also raises questions as to whether EHS fall activities will be affected. 

“I’m really hoping that the increase in cases doesn’t affect the way we can put on a show this fall,” drama club sophomore Case Warner says. 

His first performance at EHS was for a virtual audience. This year he looks forward to performing for a larger group of people.

“Actors rely on audience participation, like laughter,” Warner says. “And without that audience participation, some things don’t flow as well.” 

Senior varsity football player Carter Knoyle agrees. 

“Last year was a very weird year, especially for football,” Knoyle says. “Having little to no crowd made the atmosphere not like it’s supposed to be.” 

Continuing to follow safety standards like wearing masks and social distancing, especially for the unvaccinated, is important, Knoyle says. 

“I think being smart about it is the best precaution you can take,” Knoyle says. “If you think you’ve been exposed, just stay home and get a test.”