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COVID-19 Delta Variant: What Dairy Employers Need to Know

September 8, 2021

What is the Delta variant?

The Delta variant is currently the predominant strain of the COVID-19 virus circulating in the U.S. It is nearly twice as contagious as previous variants and more likely to cause severe illness than previous strains among people who are unvaccinated.

While it spreads primarily among the unvaccinated, no one is immune. Individuals infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections, can transmit it to others.

What can I do to protect myself and my workforce?

Get vaccinated. Authorized vaccines are highly effective at protecting people against severe COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people are much less likely to become infected and, if infected, to develop symptoms of COVID-19. They are at substantially reduced risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 compared with unvaccinated people. NMPF is one of 30 agricultural organizations promoting vaccinations among farmers and other rural Americans.

Vaccination remains an employer’s best tool for returning to normalcy, even with the Delta variant. If you’re an employer, remove any barriers that could prevent your employees from getting vaccinated and consider offering incentives to employees upon proof of vaccination.

Health experts urge that an overwhelming portion of the population must be vaccinated to overcome the disruptions of COVID-19.

What guidance is available for fully vaccinated people?

Outdoor activities pose minimal risk to fully vaccinated people. However, to reduce their risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and potentially spreading it to others, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people:

  • Wear a mask in public indoor settings if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Get tested 3-5 days after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • Continue to follow any applicable federal, state and local laws, rules, and regulations.

What guidance is available for unvaccinated people?

For unvaccinated individuals, CDC guidance for preventing COVID-19 and managing its spread remains unchanged:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay six feet away from others
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect
  • Monitor your health daily

What should be done in situations when not everyone is vaccinated?

In situations when vaccinated and unvaccinated workers may be interacting, the safest path is to act as if everyone is unvaccinated. This is a change brought about by the Delta variant, which, although much less likely to infect vaccinated people and much less likely to cause serious illness, may still be spread by the vaccinated. Also, the long-term effectiveness of current vaccines is unknown, making the risk of infection potentially higher among even the vaccinated in coming months.

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