“The Delta variant, a strain of Covid-19 believed to be more transmissible and dangerous than others, is likely to break out in some US communities,” CNN‘s Madeline Holcombe reported. Parts of the country with low vaccination rates and low rates of prior infections were most likely to be affected according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.
Alabama fits that description.
Alison Durkee reported in Forbes that according to the the World Health Organization (WHO) fully vaccinated people were advised to maintain social distancing and continue to wear masks because of the threat of the highly infectious Delta variant. Durkee wrote:
“Us[ing] masks consistently” and following other social distancing measures like avoiding crowds, hand washing and being in well-ventilated spaces is “extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said, warning, “Vaccines alone won’t stop the community transmission.”
The Gothamist‘s Nsikan Akpan wrote that the Delta variant was a concern to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, with those who are unvaccinated having “the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill.”
A spokesman for Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivy responded to the WHO warning, as reported by AL.com‘s Sarah Whites-Koditschek, in this way:
“Since she is fully vaccinated and has total confidence in the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Ivey no longer wears her mask.”
White’s Koditshek wrote that the state of Alabama would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. She added:
Alabama continues to trail the nation with 32.4 percent of residents fully vaccinated, ahead of only Mississippi, according to CDC figures as of Monday.
The CDC guidelines required that unvaccinated people continue to be masked when they are indoors, as grocery stores in T-Town have posted. However in many places, likely including City Hall, masks were not being worn, regardless of the vaccination status of those who were indoors.
FiveThirtyEight‘s Angelica Puzio explained that often “traditional masculinity gets in the way of health-promoting behaviors,” such as becoming vaccinated or wearing masks. She wrote that “men who conform to traditional masculine norms have lower levels of empathy toward people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, and they are less likely to trust the scientific community.” Women were far more likely to make sound health decisions. Puzio wrote:
Jennifer Reich, a sociologist at the University of Colorado Denver who has studied vaccination behavior for more than a decade, told me that women were more used to making decisions about their own health and the health of their families than men were.
[O]ne of the best ways to increase inoculation rates among those who are hesitant could be making vaccine information readily available in the places where trust already exists, such as churches or barber shops. Reich put it this way: “Often there are other community leaders, brokers of trust or allies that are influential to people beyond doctors. In many ways the solutions really have to educate and empower people in the community to understand information in ways that are accessible.”
Regardless of the impact of the new dangerous Delta variant, Covid vaccinations were vitally important to T-Town‘s public safety.
Perhaps some of the funds that Tuscaloosa was scheduled to receive from the American Rescue Fund Act could have been dedicated to a public relations campaign to promote community vaccinations. According to AL.com‘s John Sharp, there was even some thought on using the Covid relief funds on gun violence prevention. Vaccinations were certainly as important a public safety issue as gun violence.