The Delta variant is spreading throughout the United States quicker than ever, and since only half of the nation received the vaccine, another lockdown seems inevitable.
From early spring to late summer of 2021, people looked forward to returning to their normal lives: traveling, maskless gatherings, carefree parties, concerts, and time with friends and families. Activities they have not been able to do since early 2020.
However, as people started to become less strict with COVID-19 procedures, like necessary mask-wearing social distancing, cases started to rise again.
This is mainly due to the lack of vaccinations across the country. Even after months of vaccine distributions, barely a majority of American citizens are fully vaccinated. According to the New York Times, only 60% of the entire country has received the first dose, and only 51% of the entire country has received their second dose. While this is significant progress, COVID-19 cases will only decrease with greater vaccination rates, especially among the most vulnerable. According to CNBC, “states with higher vaccination rates are seeing fewer COVID-19 patients take up hospital beds.”
Despite its profound effectiveness, COVID-19 vaccines are negatively stigmatized. Some incorrectly suggest the vaccine causes infertility, tracks people through a government microchip, causes people to be “magnetized,” and the list of insanity continues. Despite the inaccuracy of these claims, these unsubstantiated rumors have dangerously convinced thousands of people to not get the vaccine.
According to the New York Times, on July 4th, the US had 2,992 new COVID-19 cases with a 7-day rolling average of 12,434 cases. Today, August 20th, there are 199,606 news cases with a 7-day rolling average of 145,913 cases. This concerning rise is due to the Delta variant’s greater transmissibility and widespread vaccine hesitancy promulgated by conspiracy theories.
Unfortunately, younger people are more likely to reject the vaccine since they believe their strong immune system and lack of preexisting health conditions are enough to combat the virus. This leads many young people to inaccurately believe that the vaccine is useless against the Delta or even Alpha variant.
What those people fail to realize is that they can spread COVID-19 to unvaccinated or high-risk people and that COVID-19 may have long-lasting harmful impacts.
Consequently, many states are again issuing a statewide mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, to outdoor activities, including attending school.
This leads us, teenagers, to think if more of the U.S population were vaccinated, would we be going into a new school year without the worry of our prom or graduation getting canceled? Would we be able to see all of our friends again and go to parties?
All we can do now is encourage our friends and family to be smart and follow COVID-19 procedures so that we don’t have another repeat of 2020 so that maybe I can have a junior formal this year!
Ethan Kim contributed to and edited this article.