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A cloud of unease has descended over America’s pandemic summer, arriving with an inescapable sense of déjà vu. Is it happening all over again?
Or, maybe more to the point: When is this going to end? We don’t have clear-cut answers, but my colleague Ed Yong offers some insights in his latest.
In short, Delta has completely changed our pandemic endgame. Below are three big takeaways from Ed’s reporting.
1. Vaccination alone won’t save us.
To be clear, shots are still the best way for individuals to protect themselves. But “highly vaccinated communities can still be vulnerable,” thanks to breakthrough infections (which remain very rare) and Delta’s extreme transmissibility, Ed explains.
2. Delta makes it clear: This virus isn’t going away.
The coronavirus is pretty much certain to become endemic, like the common cold.
“Most people will meet the virus eventually; we want to ensure that as many people as possible do so with two doses of vaccine in them, and that everyone else does so over as much time as possible,” Ed writes.
3. Right now, we need to buy time.
Time for hospitals to dodge deadly surges. Time for kids to get some in-person instruction. Time for the immunocompromised to get boosters. Time for researchers to study breakthrough cases. Time to persuade the unvaccinated to go get their shots.
Just like in the early days of this pandemic, time is precious, and every mitigation measure helps.
One question, answered: I lost my vaccine card. What do I do?
Amanda Mull, who recently wrote about the cards’ maddeningly inconvenient size, explains:
Recovering your vaccine record will be easiest for people who got their shots from a provider that makes them digitally accessible. That includes chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, as well as medical providers who use a digital health-record service such as MyChart. All you should need to do is log in to your account.
If you received your shots at a location you can still access—a local pharmacy, clinic, or mass-vaccination site that’s still operating—then you can likely get a physical backup record by going back and asking for it. You might get a new card or simply a printout of your digital record, but either should be sufficient to get you into brunch.
Should you be unable to return to the scene of your vaccination and a digital copy isn’t readily available, the next place to go is to the health department in the state in which you were vaccinated. How you can request your record from the state will vary—Tennessee, for example, has set up an online request form to have your record emailed to you within three days. New York’s Excelsior Pass Plus program lets residents find and save their vaccination record in its app or print it out from a web browser. By now, enough people have lost their cards that there’s a replacement process virtually everywhere, even if it’s a little annoying.
If you’re worried you’ll lose your card and don’t want to deal with the drama of replacing it, there’s something very easy you can do to avoid the problem entirely: Take a picture of your card and email it to yourself with a subject line that’s easy to search.
The news in three sentences:
(1) The 2020 U.S. Census results show a diversifying country. (2) America is sending thousands of troops to Afghanistan and sending some embassy staff home following a series of Taliban military victories there. (3) Britney Spears’s father, Jamie, has stepped down from her conservatorship.
What to read if … you’re looking for practical advice on how to manage your risk in light of Delta:
If you’re vaccinated, your risk of a symptomatic breakthrough case remains very low—just 0.01 to 0.29 percent of fully vaccinated people will experience one, according to one estimate. And if you do get COVID-19, your immune system is better prepared to handle an infection than it would have been without the vaccine.
The CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings in communities with “substantial or high transmission.” That’s most of the country right now.
Should you take additional precautions? It depends. Our staff writer Katherine J. Wu recommends checking local virus conditions like the weather every day.
Have questions about the virus or this pandemic moment? Ask us.
Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:
New television alert! FX’s comedy series Reservation Dogs, also streaming on Hulu, is as fresh as it gets.
A break from the news:
Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox