Masks are coming off, restaurants, stadiums, and theaters are welcoming patrons back, and summer vacation plans are coming to fruition. Claiming victory over the pandemic would be both premature and concerning, however, according to public health officials as quoted in an article just published by The Guardian. For one thing, the aforementioned relaxing of preventive measures will be a test of just how effective COVID-19 vaccines are in the real world as people dive back into their previously normal activities. For another, there’s been a downturn in weekly vaccination rates in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control’s “best case scenario” for continuing progress in the pandemic relies on seeing the vast majority of Americans fully vaccinated while continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing (though not lockdown conditions). At the same time, a new variant of the virus is wreaking havoc in the United Kingdom. Delta, or B.1.617, first popped up in India and is thought to be 40% more transmissible than the original strain. At this point it appears that people who have had only the first of two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine may be especially susceptible to the Delta variant. All of this puts us at a crossroads regarding the future course of the pandemic in the U.S. Keep up your efforts to educate the public and to encourage complete vaccination.

Day to Day, the COVID-19 News Gets Sunnier—but the Long-Term Forecast Is Concerning