Amid delta surge, confusion again reigns

Authors: Carissa Wolf, Douglas Moser, Roxana Popescu and Lenny Bernstein, The Washington Post

BOISE, IDAHO – Ben Lemons, an elementary school principal, received a coronavirus vaccine as soon as he could and tries to model safe practices for his students and staff. He masks up. In a state where relatively few have been immunized, he talks about why he got the shot.

The Shelley, Idaho, educator said he has been vigilant about social distancing and wearing a mask throughout the pandemic. Now, with the delta variant surging, he has become a little more vigilant. He feels safe taking his mask off if there’s a significant distance between him and other people. That’s as far as he’ll go in public.

“Everybody needs to go backward,” Lemons said.

After a couple of glorious months with diminished concern about the coronavirus, the delta variant has imposed a deja vu of risk-reward calculations on Americans, a throwback to the early months of the pandemic when every decision was preceded by a mental run through the positives and negatives.

Work? School? Grocery store? Family visit? Indoor restaurant? It’s all, once again, a mentally taxing exercise in fear vs. desire at a time when many hoped the pandemic would be receding into history.

This time, there are new variables to consider – most importantly, the widespread availability of highly effective vaccines. But while the coronavirus vaccines lighten the load by offering superb protection against severe disease and death, they are not perfect. Vaccinated people can become infected, although most should have a mild course of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

And more than 130 million Americans have yet to receiveone dose of a coronavirus vaccine, including children under age 12.

William Tang of Newton, Mass., is confronting those limits. He, his wife and his young child hunkered down through the pandemic and diligently followed health guidelines. Now, he is watching case numbers rise, especially at an intended vacation destination. He is reassessing what they should do and where they can go.

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