Record editorial: The pandemic is far from over as 2021 nears an end. Act accordingly.
We hoped receiving one course of the COVID-19 vaccines would be all we’d need. That enough people across the state, country and world would get inoculated to stifle transmission of the coronavirus. That the nightmare that has been the pandemic would be long over by now, more than a year and a half after it began.
Alas, this once-in-a-generation health crisis has put us on our heels again.
The pandemic is still raging as the end of 2021 approaches, with case counts in both Summit County and the rest of Utah in recent weeks higher than they’ve been throughout the majority of the crisis. And worse, a new coronavirus variant, dubbed omicron by the World Health Organization, has emerged, frightening health officials across the globe and raising fears that the world could be in for another harrowing winter.
It’s too early to panic about omicron — experts say there’s no clear evidence yet that it will become a dominant variant globally, cause worse health effects than other strains or reduce the effectiveness of vaccines — but its emergence is a clear warning that we, collectively, must continue to take the proper steps to protect ourselves and others.
For starters, Summit County residents should receive booster shots as soon as they can (or get their first doses if they haven’t yet been inoculated). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidelines to encourage all adults who’ve received the vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna to get the additional shot after six months, while those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster after two months.
Let’s be clear: The need for a booster is not proof that the vaccines have failed. The vaccines have been more effective than many health experts predicted in the early stages of the pandemic, and continue to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization or death. But the prevalence of breakthrough cases fueled by the delta variant, as well as the concern over omicron, have made boosters an essential weapon in this stage of the fight against the coronavirus.
And while most people in Summit County eased up on other precautions throughout the summer and fall — justifiably, given our high vaccination rate and relatively low case numbers in that period — it’s also time to tighten up once again. There’s no need for vaccinated residents to go back into lockdown like last year, but it’s a good idea to follow the guidelines we’ve all become accustomed to, including masking up in large gatherings — particularly in situations where the vaccination status of others isn’t known.
It’s disappointing that we aren’t yet able to move on from the pandemic. Summit County residents, like everyone else in the world, were hoping for a winter free from coronavirus concerns. The current health situation, though, demands continuing action. Let’s do our part to ensure Summit County remains as safe as possible.
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