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SAN DIEGO – San Diego County public health officials continue to urge residents to get vaccinated as the more infectious delta variant it on its way to becoming the county’s dominant strain of the virus.

“It’s essentially coronavirus on steroids,” Sharp HealthCare Family Medicine Dr. Abisola Olulade said.

The virus has surged across the U.S. in recent weeks, leading some municipalities to reinstate indoor mask mandates regardless of vaccination status. San Diego County has resisted such a move, publicly stating Monday its intentions to continue following state guidelines which largely require indoor masking for unvaccinated people and for all only in limited circumstances.

More than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases and 55 hospitalizations were reported from Friday to Sunday in the county. And if vaccinations don’t start to match the pace of the delta variant, Olulade said it could lead to more cases, increased hospitalizations and even more deaths.

“Not only is this the most contagious coronavirus strain that we know of, it’s actually one of the most contagious respiratory infectious that most people ever come into contact with,” she said.

She said early surveys show the delta variant may not cause a loss of taste and smell — two of the symptoms commonly associated with the coronavirus.

Instead, she said upper respiratory symptoms seem to be more common.

“Some people are saying they’re getting more sinus congestion-type symptoms, sore throat-type symptoms, headache,” she said. “It seems to be based on surveys, but at this point that’s all still preliminary.”

She said the key to dropping the surge in cases is vaccinations. It’s also critical to get the full dose. County health officials said one dose only is about 30% effective in protecting a person from catching the virus.

“If you haven’t signed up to get a vaccine, the question is: what are you waiting for?” Olulade said.