In the last hurrah of summer as we bask under a warm sun and cooler breezes, it’s tempting to put aside thoughts of a pandemic that is still with us.

It’s tempting to ignore the need to again wear masks and to stay distant from others indoors. It’s tempting to pretend that all is well.

The expectation that vaccines have returned life to its pre-COVID-19 normal is a siren song that will sicken and harm us if we do not plug our ears to it.

Making cautious risk calculations will be key to enjoying Wagon Days and other local Labor Day holiday events. Most take place outdoors where transmission of COVID-19 is still low.

Celebrations should be tempered by the knowledge that even though 83% of residents over the age of 12 in Blaine County are fully vaccinated, the South Central District Health Department says the spread of COVID-19 is at a critical level.

As a destination resort, the Sun Valley area has been unable to escape the fallout from the more than 50% of eligible Idahoans who are not vaccinated.

The delta variant of the virus is driving the rise of infections everywhere in the U.S. Even vaccinated people cannot rest easy. The variant plus falling rates of vaccine effectiveness will be a wicked brew of illness if we let it.

With Idaho hospitals already bursting at the seams with mostly unvaccinated COVID patients, it’s not hard to imagine what fall and winter will bring if few people take precautions.

Information coming out of Israel is fueling concern. Israelis were vaccinated several months earlier than Americans, and people with breakthrough infections are now showing up in that nation’s hospitals. They amount to a tiny percentage of those vaccinated, but they show that vaccines are not a silver bullet. Most breakthrough patients are older, over the age of 60, and suffer from chronic illnesses.

Israel’s experience and the beginnings of breakthrough infections here at home led the CDC to recommend booster shots beginning this month.

Kids under the age of 12 still are not approved for vaccines. They should be at the top of everyone’s list of reasons to mask up, wash hands, keep their distance and get vaccinated.

Risk centers for indoor transmission of the airborne virus should be obvious by now. If there’s a crowd, there’s a risk.

So, get out the masks. Put ’em on indoors. Protect yourself, protect others and prevent the last days of summer from generating a grisly winter of illness and death.

Aim to keep everyone healthy enough to celebrate another Wagon Days weekend next year.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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