There are tools to beat back Covid again. Does anyone want to use them?
Before Covid-19 vaccines, public health officials fought off the pandemic with the only tools they had: mask-wearing, social distancing, school closures, and limits on the size of gatherings.
Now, with cases surging again in much of the United States due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, those tools could still make a measurable difference at a critical moment — but not if the public is unwilling to use them.
A year and a half after Covid restrictions were first implemented, people have had it with the pandemic. Other than highly effective vaccines, which haven’t been accepted by enough people to quash spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, there are no new tools in the public health toolbox, and people have absolutely no interest in reusing the ones that it does contain.
Those sentiments are, in effect, tying the hands of exhausted health officials.
“There aren’t a lot of moves left to make, I think, because we’ve moved beyond most non-pharmaceutical measures and I don’t think the political appetite is really there to re-implement them,” Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at …
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