The Delta variant has quickly made a large impact on the country

The+Delta+variant+was+first+detected+in+India.+As+the+new+strain+has+traveled+worldwide%2C+it+has+been+discovered+to+be+two-times+as+infectious+as+the+Alpha+variant%2C+and+60%25+more+transmissible.

AP News

The Delta variant was first detected in India. As the new strain has traveled worldwide, it has been discovered to be two-times as infectious as the Alpha variant, and 60% more transmissible.

Although Forest Hills students and staff, if vaccinated, are free to choose whether to wear a mask or not, the unvaccinated and children under the age of twelve are required to mask up at the beginning of the school year. This may be subject to change as the year progresses, but the recent arrival of the Delta variant is bringing controversial discussions about mask policies and vaccine effectiveness to the table in and beyond the district.

The Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the original Alpha variant, according to Nail Ferguson of Imperial College London. Not only this, but this new strain is making people sicker—especially unvaccinated individuals.

According to The Lancet Infectious Diseases cohort study on hospital admission and emergency care admittance comparisons between Alpha and Delta, individuals infected with the variant are at approximately two times more risk of hospitalization in relation to the original strain. Moreover, the Delta variant is an even higher risk to the unvaccinated with research and recent news proving the seriousness of infection—Delta variant outbreaks are burdening healthcare services more so than the initial outbreaks of the Alpha variant.

John Hopkins University’s real-time data displays that more than 639,000 Americans alone have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, not to mention 4.9 million worldwide. Yet, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only 61.3% of Americans are vaccinated. The Delta variant is causing a surge in cases, such as the one seen in January where hospitalizations peaked at a seven-day average of 140,000 people admitted per day country-wide. As of this week, 100,000 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized daily across the country. This past winter, many Americans were not yet eligible to get vaccinated, only increasing the deadliness of the strain as hospitals are overwhelmed due to the low vaccination rates of today, even with the vaccine being accessible to the public.

Both the inadequate vaccination rates and the politics of mask-wearing are taking their toll on the country’s health”

Both the inadequate vaccination rates and the politics of mask-wearing are taking their toll on the country’s health. According to the CDC, 330 children are admitted to hospitals daily with the virus. This is due to both

the inability of children under the age of 12 to receive the vaccine and the highly contagious variant being passed among these children alongside many unvaccinated individuals.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks in school for children over the age of two, many parents are finding themselves in a difficult position when it comes to sending their children to school in-person while remaining concerned about their health and safety.

Not only has the Delta variant been proven to be even more deadly than the Alpha variant, but discussion and opposition to vaccinations in the country has also increased as the effectiveness of the vaccine and mask policies are questioned.

Last week, on Tuesday, August 24th, parents of Forest Hills students gathered outside of Forest Hills Central High School to protest the mask policies suggested to their children attending school. With signs reading things such as “masks are child abuse” and “box warning: ‘will not provide any protection against COVID-19,’” it is overwhelmingly clear that the Delta variant is causing doubts and unrest in parents as they send their children back to school.

COVID-19 is and has been the main topic of conversation in both the United States and worldwide. Participating in educated conversations and being open to new opinions and ideas is the best way to tackle this virus head-on.