The COVID-19 pandemic may feel over—or still a threat, depending on where you live, what you believe and who you read. But one thing that will impact us all is the new Delta variant, a more dangerous and “more transmissible” form of the virus. It will soon become the dominant form of the virus here in America, and has already caused delays and deaths in the UK. Read on for five essential warnings from virus experts—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
States with low vaccination rates are “time bombs waiting to happen,” says Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist, Regents Professor, and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Mississippi—which has the country’s lowest vaccination rate—leads Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Wyoming. Missouri is also seeing a spike in cases.
“Your head’s in the freezer, your feet are in the oven, and your average temperature’s just right…Some people think this [pandemic] is just gone now, that this is it. And it’s not. Globally, these have been the worst few months of the pandemic,” said Osterholm last week. Australia, for example, has recently instituted more lockdowns; the UK postponed it’s reopening. US states with low vaccination rates may have to do the same.
“A virus is always going to try and increase its transmissibility if it can,” Jemma Geoghegan, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Otago, told Katherine J. Wu in the Atlantic. Wu writes about how unpredictable this virus is. “We cannot be complacent about ‘Oh, this is the end of the mutations,'” Akiko Iwasaki, a virologist and immunologist at Yale, told her. “The evolutionary pressure for a virus is transmissibility.”
The World Health Organization made a stunning request on Friday. “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a news briefing. “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Simao added. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson went on Face the Nation yesterday to plead with his constituents and all Americans to get vaccinated. “There is a vaccine hesitancy part of it,” he said, “but the part that you’re most concerned about are those that don’t believe in the efficacy of it. They believe in the conspiracy theories….The Delta variant is a great concern to us. We see that impacting our increasing cases and hospitalizations. So you have to take the counsel of the medical experts seriously.”
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.