Many people in certain parts of the United States remain vulnerable to the fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus. New data from the last week of July 2021 documented a 10% increase in COVID-19 cases in 48 states. There has even been an uptick in cases where vaccine rates are higher, and in areas where previous outbreaks occurred early on in the pandemic.
As of now, health experts and data analysis supports the fact that the southern United States are most susceptible to COVID-19 surges. Even though minimally vaccinated areas like northern Arkansas or southern Missouri face outbreaks, so do areas with 70-80% vaccination rates. Researchers agree that no area in the United States has achieved herd immunity. Because the delta variant is more contagious, it’s making that task more difficult.
An analysis conducted by researchers at Georgetown University detected 30 clusters of counties with low vaccination rates. These areas also have significant populations, but five clusters stood out more than the rest. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, two of those areas were in Arkansas and Missouri. Three others included Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Alabama. The data suggests that these areas are more vulnerable than they were in December 2020, given the high-transmission rate of the delta variant.
What Does The Data Say?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-third of Americans have yet to receive a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, the reason that vaccinated areas are also susceptible is because the vaccines are not 100% effective. There are always occasional breakthroughs with any vaccine, even with high vaccination rates. When only 50% of the population is fully vaccinated, which is the case for the United States, it’s much easier for breakthrough cases to happen. That’s why hospitals are seeing an increase of COVID-19 infections in vaccinated people. Some researchers even go so far as to say that the unvaccinated are putting vaccinated people at risk.
Can Unvaccinated People Lower Their Risk?
Yes, this is completely possible. Failure to follow basic protocol in regards to COVID-19 safety measures, though, will increase the risk of infection. Places like movie theaters, concerts, sporting events, bars, and restaurants are easy places to catch COVID-19. Being in close quarters with other unvaccinated people is quite dangerous. Additionally, if the delta variant is spreading in an unvaccinated area, it’s much easier for more contagious variants to develop. If you want to protect yourself, avoid the following places if you’re unvaccinated.
Movie Theaters, Concert Halls, And Churches
People missed all of these venues during lockdown because they provide either entertainment or encouragement via worship. Unfortunately, congregating indoors with a large amount of people, especially if they are unvaccinated, can be a breeding ground for COVID-19. You can attend these areas, but take proper safety precautions beforehand. For example, wear a mask indoors and get a test within 48-72 hours before the event. Safer alternatives include drive-in movie theaters, outdoor concerts, or outdoor church ceremonies. Virtual concerts and church congregations are the safest options.
Bars And Restaurants
You may have to wear a mask to enter an establishment, but the mask comes off as soon as you sit down at a table. Restaurants, however, are doing their very best to keep people socially distanced and offer outdoor dining options. Bars, on the other hand, tend to be overcrowded and don’t have great ventilation. When you are with people you don’t know, which is the case for most bars and restaurants, you are much more vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure. The whole point of being at a bar or restaurant is to eat, drink, and socialize without masks, so masks can’t be on. To be safer the CDC suggests grabbing an outdoor meal, having food delivered, or hosting a drink night within your bubble of friends.
It seems like it’s best to go back to masks during this time of the delta. Take your precautions and do your part to slow the rise in COVID-19 infections. If we all work together, we can move forward in a positive direction.