Delta variant sparks COVID outbreak in Oklahoma gymnastics gym — 85% were unvaccinated

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A COVID-19 outbreak in an Oklahoma gymnastics gym infected 47 people in just over two weeks, including gymnasts, staff members and household contacts — 40 of them unvaccinated, federal health officials report.

Only 21 of the COVID-19 cases were sequenced to determine what version of the coronavirus caused them, but all of those samples were identified as the highly contagious delta variant, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Friday.

The outbreak, which occurred between April 15 and May 3, adds to existing evidence that suggests the delta variant has higher attack rates than other variants of concern, meaning it can infect more people after exposure.

The attack rate among infected gymnasts and staff members was 20% and 53% among their household contacts.

Forty of the infected people were unvaccinated, three were partially vaccinated with one dose completed and four were fully vaccinated. Those who were infected ranged from 5 to 58 years old, though the median age was 14.

Two unvaccinated adults required hospitalization and one required intensive care.

The Oklahoma outbreak joins two others reported this week.

In Texas, more than 125 campers and adults who attended a church camp tested positive for COVID-19, with hundreds more people likely exposed either at the camp or at home. A country music festival in Colorado has also led to a coronavirus outbreak that infected four staff members and 13 attendees.

The CDC emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, “especially those engaging in strenuous sports with limited ability to maintain physical distancing.” Data shows all available versions of the vaccine offer adequate protection against the delta variant and other variants of concern spreading in the U.S.

New national data released this week predicted the variant will make up about 52% of analyzed coronavirus cases in the country by the end of the two-week period ending July 3, officially overtaking the previously dominant alpha variant first found in the U.K. About a month ago, delta made up about 6%.

Because of reporting delays and multiple interfering variants, federal health officials say the latest estimates mirror case and hospitalization trends in different regions, particularly those with low vaccination rates.

About 99.5% of coronavirus deaths over the last six months have occurred in unvaccinated people, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week during a White House COVID-19 briefing. She called the current “suffering and loss ... entirely avoidable.”

An Associated Press review of government data from May also found that breakthrough infections, or those that occur in fully vaccinated people two or more weeks after receiving all their shots, made up less than 1,200 of the more than 107,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations — about 1.1%.

And of the more than 18,000 coronavirus deaths in May, only about 150 were fully vaccinated people, or about 0.8%.