To the Editor: Last week I belatedly sent in a letter to the editor on the latest COVID numbers which was not published. However, I was relieved and impressed upon reading a front page story in the Saturday Athens Review which covered the new figures in great detail, plus an excellent piece from the Huntsville Item on vaccine hesitancy. The only thing I would want to add is that the COVID vaccines will protect persons who received them from serious illness but it may not prevent them from spreading the disease more widely in the community and putting at risk those more vulnerable. Only the old standards will do that: wearing a mask, washing your hands, and watching your distance.

Last winter, I attempted to construct and to maintain a chart of local COVID cases and relative risk over time so that people could track how things were progressing (or not). All such efforts are doomed to failure as very few places do enough testing to actually find out how many cases there are in a given community, and efforts to systematically estimate case prevalence are months out of date by the time they are published. All this to say there’s no way of knowing, with any degree of accuracy, how high the current risk is in Athens. Except that new cases are higher now than they have ever been, they are substantially higher this week than last, the Delta variant is more contagious than its predecessor, and the risk will continue to go up for the immediate and the foreseeable future.

Merle Walker


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