BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Baltimore City, like most other areas, are seeing cases increase. With COVID-19 cases in Baltimore up 115 percent from a month ago, city leaders are imploring people to get vaccinated.
"Contracting the disease itself is much worse than the temporary side effects of a vaccine that over 300,000 city residents have already received," said Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, Baltimore City's health commissioner.
More than half of Baltimore City residents are vaccinated, but it’s disproportionate. In some areas, more than 70 percent of people have not been vaccinated and now we are dealing with the highly transmissible delta variant.
"The fact that it’s more transmissible poses significant risk, especially for our unvaccinated population," said Dzirasa.
All of the Marylanders who died of COVID in June were unvaccinated.
"It’s becoming increasingly obvious that getting vaccinated is the difference between life and death," said Mayor Brandon Scott.
Along with targeting communities, city leaders are encouraging people to wear masks when around potentially unvaccinated people.
Scott is hopeful they won’t have to reinstate a mask mandate but Dr. Christopher Thompson from Loyola University thinks it might become necessary again.
"As more and more people get sick, we have the chances for more and more variants to arise which may make our vaccines even less effective," said Thompson.
He said there’s already some proof of that with the lambda variant, which has started to pop up in the U.S.
"Why the WHO is a little concerned is that it seems to be a little more resistant to our vaccines, it seems to be able to get around that a little bit," said Thompson.
So as many people, including himself, get ready to send their kids back to school this fall, he recommends starting the transition now to masking indoors.
"I think just getting them ready to wear their masks again inside is a good first step," said Thompson.
Pfizer aims to request emergency use authorization for kids ages 5 to 11 by October, which is when Thompson said the current surge is predicted to peak.