Understanding Delta: readjusting to nationwide mask mandate


Zioni Moore

After a brief celebration of the loss of masks from the May CDC guideline, each day Americans incorporate grabbing a mask and hand sanitizer before their daily commute as they conform to recent CDC regulations. With Cobb County becoming a hot-spot within the metro-Atlanta area, the need for protection along with the risk of infection increased ten-fold per individual.

Zioni Moore, News Editor

On May 13, 2021, Texas, West Virginia and Arizona released the mask mandate they implemented into their civilians’ lives for the better half of over a year. Dozens of states across the country soon followed those footsteps, particularly in the vaccinated population. The events led to becoming America’s first step in beginning to feel normal again. On July 24th, merely two months after the relaxed rules and the rejoicing of a nation, the CDC instituted the mask mandate once again. The regulation included vaccinated individuals, their contribution arguably causing the previous drop in cases throughout the country sparking outrage, confusion, and depression throughout the nation. Nevertheless, the question that remains for thousands stands: what to do now?

For certain areas, including Fulton and the Greater Atlanta area, that includes a complete mask mandate. Mask requirements reappeared across the board, from public areas to schools, regardless of vaccination status, as per CDC guidelines. Other than the most recent mask regulation, the updated guidelines include at minimum 3 feet social distancing and testing for Covid positivity every 3 to 4 days. As for Cobb County, masks remain optional, for all vaccinated and unvaccinated, students or civilians otherwise, however numerous NC students still follow the CDC guidelines, including junior Blessing Samu.

“I’m kinda annoyed because I was really looking forward to not having to wear a mask [but] I’m fine with having to wear one because if I don’t, I could be hurting others,” Samu said.

The largest concern for the public relates to the new requirement of masks for the vaccinated—with the reasoning for the majority becoming vaccinated based on the lack of masks and with the vaccine not completely preventing individuals from contacting Covid-19, hundreds feel conflicted with the CDC’s choice. However, how the Delta variant spreads and infects dictates the decision drastically.

The previous SARS-CoV-2 strains cannot compare to Delta, beginning with the sheer contagiousness alone. With the previous Alpha strain, one person infected on average two other people without wearing a mask.  With Delta, that number increased to 4 on average. Combine that to the variant disproportionately affecting unvaccinated individuals more, and America develops what Yale epidemiologist Francis Wilson describes as “hyperlocal outbreaks” that affect even the young and normally healthy, destroying the notion that only seniors and infants can develop severe illness from Covid.

The problem is that this allows the virus to hop, skip, and jump from one poorly vaccinated area to another…the pandemic could look different than what we’ve seen before, [showing] where there are real hotspots around the country,”  Wilson said.