Begin with one simple fact: The Delta variant of COVID-19 is more contagious than the original virus, but it is not more dangerous or likely to kill you. If you are vaccinated and are exposed to it, you may get infected. This infection is likely to be mild; occasionally vaccinated people get sick. These symptoms are usually mild, manageable, and pass within a day or two.
The first case of the Delta variant — previously referred to as “the Indian variant” — in the U.S. was diagnosed at the end of March. Our active COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have declined since that date, although the daily number of new cases has increased dramatically in recent weeks. This is what we would expect to see from a variant that is more contagious but equally virulent.
As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keep emphasizing, about 99 percent of current hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated — fewer than 1,200 of more than 107,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in May were of vaccinated individuals. If you are vaccinated, the virus can’t do much harm to you, even if it’s the Delta variant. But if you are unvaccinated, the risk of a serious health issue is what it was at the start of 2020 — a minor risk if you’re young and healthy, and a significantly higher risk if you’re elderly, immunocompromised, or have other health issues. …
… The CDC has decided that because of the risk to the unvaccinated, everyone — including the fully vaccinated — should mask up once again to stop the spread. Just like that, we’re back to 2020, with Americans fighting over whether they need to wear one indoors, outdoors, and in schools, and policing each other when the masks slide under their noses. All to protect people who have been eligible to get vaccinated since mid April, and who, in most cases, have deliberately chosen to not get the shot.