A top infectious disease researcher on Sunday said the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 has made outdoor gatherings far more likely places to spread the surging virus.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said people will have to be far more vigilant about protecting themselves in outdoor settings — particularly the unvaccinated.
“We've had a number of events where people crowded together outdoors get infected,” he said. “Imagine what happens to our kids when they're closely together in schools. It's important — you've seen in the … South, a number of outbreaks of cases. We do have to at this point recognize this delta is a very, very bad virus in terms of transmission.”
According to San Francisco news outlet KRON, several concert organizers have adopted stricter rules for entry because of the more potent transmissible nature of the delta variant.
Napa’s BottleRock music festival in California is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Concert promoter AEG also announced vaccination requirements for all of its concerts and festivals, which include Coachella and the New Orleans Jazz Festival, among others.
Osterholm said the quality of masks is now of prime importance, asserting he expects the virus surge could continue to surge through the next four to six weeks.
“We need to put everything we can towards controlling this virus,” he said. “One of the things, of course, is masks. I want to qualify that by saying — and I think this has been a difficult message for many, the nuanced message — is what kind of mask you're using.”
“We've not paid any attention to giving the public the message that you need much more effective masking such as the N95 masks … or the KN95 for kids,” Osterholm said.
“While vaccination is still the number one, two and three weapons we have, if even everyone got vaccinated today, this surge would go on as it is right now for the next four to six weeks because these people would not yet have immunity,” he said of the unvaccinated portion of the population. “What they can do today is mask. But get effective masks.”
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