DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Breakthrough cases are on the rise. People are still getting COVID-19, even after vaccinations.
It’s something Duke University officials are dealing with after 364 students and employees tested positive for the virus.
All but eight of the people were vaccinated.
Doctors said it isn’t necessarily a cause for concern.
None of the students or staff at Duke University were reported to be very sick. While it’s still possible, if people are vaccinated, they have very little chance that they will end up in a hospital or die.
Dr. David Weber with UNC-Health said COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. He said people need to reframe the way they think about the vaccines and realize people could still get sick.
“I do think an indoor mask mandate should be statewide,” Weber said.
It’s a simple change that he thinks could make a huge difference.
While vaccines are the first defense against the virus, they may not be enough.
Transmission rates are high across North Carolina.
The latest data from the state health department, for the week ending Aug. 21, show that 18 percent of COVID-19 cases are breakthroughs. That means those people got vaccinated, and still got the virus.
“The delta variant is more similar to mumps and chickenpox, meaning about eight people I could infect,” Weber said. “It’s more transmissible.”
Weber added that some of those cases are people who are immunocompromised, and the vaccines don’t work as well in those situations.
However, he said even if someone is asymptomatic with COVID-19, they could pass the virus to someone else who ends up getting sick.
Weber believes there needs to be better policies in place.
“I think a mask mandate for indoors should be instituted across the state, either by the state or in every county,” he said. “And when you can’t wear a mask indoors, [you should] physically distance a minimum of 3 feet 6 feet from others.”
Weber told CBS17 that testing should be used to help detect breakthrough cases, as opposed to a proactive safety measure.
“That’s a way of controlling spreads, such as you might do in an army barracks or cruise ship or in a college dormitory. But testing itself is not a way of preventing COVID,” he said.
CBS17 did reach out to state health leaders Tuesday morning to ask if they are considering additional policies to prevent a further spike in cases.
No one has responded yet.
Weber also emphasized the need for people to act responsibly and carefully to help prevent spreading the virus to others.