As the highly transmissible delta Covid variant continues to spread rapidly across the United States and elsewhere around the world, scientists and other health experts are warning that indoor mask mandates and other public health measures will likely make a return in the U.S. this fall.
The country, which just celebrated the Fourth of July with some of its first large gatherings in more than a year, is headed toward a “dangerous” fall season when delta is expected to cause another surge in new coronavirus cases, health experts say. Already the dominant variant in the U.S., delta will hit the states with the lowest vaccination rates the hardest — unless those states and businesses reintroduce mask rules, capacity limits and other public health measures that they’ve largely rolled back in recent months, experts say.
With new mutations discovered every few weeks, many scientists now predict that Covid will continue circulating around the world for at least the next two to three years, requiring nations to reinstitute public health measures on an ad hoc basis for the foreseeable future. Authorities in Australia, South Africa and Asia have recently reintroduced curfews or other measures to curb rising delta outbreaks. Japan just declared a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and banned spectators at the Olympics. High vaccination rates in the U.S. and the warm summer months have bought the country some extra time, but outbreaks across the world are giving Americans a preview of what may come this fall.Health workers chat near an ambulance at the parking lot of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Pretoria, South Africa, January 11, 2021.Siphiwe Sibeko | Reuters