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Time to commit to overcoming global pandemic

The Veterans Administration has become the first federal agency to mandate vaccines for its hospital staff.

“I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs, told the New York Times on Monday.

Other mandates are going into effect in California and New York City, including a return to masking, mandatory vaccines or weekly testing.

Coronavirus cases in those dense-population areas are surging.

The same thing is happening in Tokyo where the Summer Olympics are underway.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control changed its mask guidance for areas where the delta variant is fueling surges.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said new mask-wearing guidance, coupled with higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19, could halt the current escalation of infections in “a couple of weeks.”

Over the past two weeks, the number of cases nationwide rose by 170 percent. The CDC classifies the nation as a whole as being at a substantial level of transmission and Pennsylvania, a moderate rate of transmission.

Sadly, 611,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States since it began.

Now that there is ample supply of vaccine, there is reason for hope, but hope alone is not enough. Vaccination rates are nowhere near what our society needs them to be to overcome the COVID-19 threat and the menacing delta variant.

As of this week, Pennsylvania’s rate of vaccination is 52.1 percent, while the nation as a whole is 49.1 percent.

Rates in our region include Lycoming County, 41.7 percent; Union County, 46.4 percent; Clinton County, 34.6 percent.

We need to do better, and we need to do it now before the delta variant or any other variant takes control.

The sad fact is that we have the potential to change this narrative if only we would stop resisting getting the vaccine, for whatever reason.

We’re not doctors but we are observers. What we see is akin to a horror movie in which the naive give themselves up to the monster.

So, how are you protecting yourself?

And what about your neighbors, what are you doing to protect them?

What about your community?

Imagine if everyone around you contracted and succumbed to this virus. Are you ready for that?

No?

Then get your vaccine. Do this to protect not only yourself but others around you.

Live smart — and encourage others to do the same before it’s too late.

We can — we must — commit to overcoming this very real threat.

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