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Take precaution, save lives

Early in the week, we learned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was sifting through data that included some red flags about the state of our emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers were so disconcerting that officials recommended indoor masking — regardless of vaccination status — for certain sections of the country.

Mid-Ohio Valley residents may have shrugged off the news. That’s the rest of the country. We’re doing great, right?

Wrong. The CDC’s guidance includes 23 counties in Ohio where the number of cases has pushed them into being orange or red on the official map. Washington, Morgan and Meigs are among them, all orange for now. (Pleasants and Tyler counties, across the river in West Virginia, are in the orange, too.)

There are several reasons for the advisory. There are still far too many people giving in to fear and entirely fact-free conspiracy theories — both avoiding the vaccine and refusing to wear their masks in public. But now we know there are rare cases of the delta variant defying the vaccine and infecting even those who have done everything right. It may be time for those who are vaccinated to put their masks back on, too.

“In recent days, I have seen new scientific data from recent outbreak investigations showing that the delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday. “In those are rare cases that we have breakthrough infections, we felt it important for people to understand that they have the potential to transmit virus to others.”

Remember how you felt in spring of 2020 when you were just hoping enough people would do the right thing that lock downs and other tight restrictions would not be necessary? Things may not be quite that bleak, but the sentiment remains. If returning to a few of the guidelines that help us stem the spread will make a difference, there should be no question that we go back to wearing our masks and a little social distancing right now. (And get the vaccine — perhaps even a third “booster” shot, if the CDC guides us to do so).

Wash and/or sanitize your hands, don’t go out in public if you feel sick (get tested, if your symptoms warrant it), wear your mask in public if you will be indoors, give the people around you some space. Frankly — with the exception of the masks — this is the kind of stuff we all should do most of the time, anyway. But now, it’s more than common decency. Now, it may once again be necessary to save lives, and keep up our progress in fighting this plague.

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