A CBS survey released last week found that more than 70% of Americans are now comfortable gathering with friends or going to a restaurant or a bar.
Fully half would be fine with getting on a plane.
All in spite of this: Only about 43% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
Let’s be clear. This pandemic is far from over.
As of June 12, more than 15,000 people nationwide were hospitalized with COVID-19. Nearly 4,500 were in intensive care.
There is no doubt, of course, that things are looking up.
Though the total number of deaths in the United States will soon reach 600,000, the death rate has fallen significantly since the peak in February when the virus claimed more than 5,000 lives in a single day. The number of deaths recorded Monday was 145, and the seven-day average was 339.
Still, the numbers aren’t declining everywhere.
According to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Wyoming saw their seven-day rolling averages rise from two weeks earlier. All but Hawaii had vaccination rates below the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another state with vaccinations running below the national average is Indiana, with a rate of 37.3%. According to the latest statistics, the Hoosier state had administered 5.32 million vaccines, with 2.51 million of its residents fully vaccinated.
Illinois is doing far better, although there is always room for improvement. The current rate of fully vaccinated Illinois residents is a tick above 46%.
In Vermilion County, however, the vaccination rate is at a stunningly low 30.32%. There are some Illinois counties lower than that. But not many.
We need to increase that number.
Experts have estimated a vaccination rate of at least 70% is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19, and the sad reality is a significant number of the holdouts will never be vaccinated. Those folks have made up their minds, and they’re beyond the point of debating.
Others, though, are still on the fence.
They might not be sure they really need the vaccine. Perhaps they’ve heard the virus is not much worse than the flu and figure lining up for a shot just isn’t worth the trouble.
Maybe they don’t know where to get the shot, or maybe they’re just busy and haven’t taken the time.
If you’re in that group, do everyone a favor and roll up your sleeve.
All of the vaccines currently available have been shown to be safe and effective. By getting that shot, you’ll not only protect yourself, you might also protect friends and family members whose medical conditions put them at increased risk of severe illness.
The only way we’ll truly defeat this deadly virus is to persuade more Americans to become fully vaccinated. If you’ve been putting off that decision, now is the time to act.
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.