We are in the fourth wave of COVID-19 in the United States. It will lead to tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of more deaths. The vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths will be among the unvaccinated. Many more young people will be hospitalized and die this time around. If we go back to school in the fall semester without students fully vaccinated and without wearing masks, even more young people will die.
Some vaccinated persons will also get sick and die, primarily owing to the fact that so many people didn’t get vaccinated and allowed the Delta variant to spread uncontrollably. Booster shots will have to come sooner rather than later to address the new variants on their way. The likelihood that other variants will develop that are even more contagious and deadly is much higher now because so many people did not get vaccinated.
To crush a virus, we all have to be on the same page. We are not on the same page. The virus feeds off of our scientific illiteracy, our mistrust of scientific authorities, and our political divisions. We might still be dealing with polio and smallpox if the anti-science and anti-vaxxer attitudes were as strong in the past as they are now.
In the desire to keep some sense of normalcy and not hurt the economy; many local, state, and the federal government entities will be too hesitant to admit that we have failed to control the virus and will likely be too slow in their response. Many will continue to call it “the pandemic of the unvaccinated” and encourage the vaccinated to carry on as normal even as breakthrough cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will increase because of the uncontrolled community spread.
The CDC will likely continue to cling to its outlier view that vaccinated persons continue to go maskless in public indoor spaces in spite of the World Health Organization’s guidance for vaccinated persons to continue wearing masks. Many school boards, municipalities, and states will also likely ignore the American Academy of Pediatrics guidance that all students wear masks indoors because, you know, “freedom.”
Both vaccinated people and unvaccinated people will be too slow to start wearing masks again on their own. An avoidable fall and winter of suffering and death are on the way. We don’t have what it takes to defeat this together, because we are not together. We will all be caught up in the net of this virus for years to come because we simply could not swim together.
I wish I could be more positive, but this is the reality we face. The fourth wave is here. It is just the beginning. It is going to get much much worse.
Take care of yourself and your family and other loved ones, get vaccinated, wear masks indoors, avoid crowds, and be kind to each other. Love to all.