As the Delta variant continues to spread across the U.S. and around the world, it's becoming harder and harder to hope for a future (or, at least, a fall season) without COVID-19. There is still hope — as University of North Carolina epidemiologist Justin Lessler told NPR, we could "stop the Delta variant in its tracks" if enough people got vaccinated — but thanks to new variants, declining vaccination rates, and unclear guidance on masking, the next few months look bleak.
In July, a group of researchers from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub predicted that COVID deaths would continue to rise throughout the summer and fall, reaching a mid-October peak. Lessler, who helped lead the study, warned that we're currently dealing with the most pessimistic scenario possible. "We might be seeing synergistic effects of people becoming less cautious in addition to the impacts of the Delta variant," he told NPR, adding that we could see a high of around 850 deaths a day.
The Delta variant has already derailed what was supposed to be, well, a much better summer than the one we got last year. And if Lessler's predictions are accurate, we're in for a rough fall, too. All that's left to do is mask up, avoid super-spreader events, and tell everyone you know to get vaccinated. And, if you're on Twitter, try to laugh through the pain.
The newest COVID meme format — at this point, unfortunately, there have been enough COVID meme formats to warrant the "newest" descriptor — pairs two images: one representing our plans for Halloween parties and Thanksgiving travel this fall, and another representing the omnipresent, unavoidable threat of the Delta variant. From throwbacks to current pop culture references to the very, very meta, Twitter users are likening the highly contagious COVID strain to everything from Governor Ron DeSantis to bees: basically, anything that has completely ruined, derailed, or hurt something good.
We've collected some examples, for your entertainment:
We laugh, but the Delta variant currently accounts for almost all of the COVID cases in the U.S. — and this past week, we’ve seen over 100,000 new cases a day. The good news? The vaccines do offer a certain amount of immunity against the variant, and a strong amount of immunity against serious illness. If you haven't been jabbed yet, it's time to do your part to keep the viral content online only.