Thanks for nothing, unvaccinated people in Salem and the rest of Marion County. Because of you, I've starting wearing a mask when I exercise at Courthouse Club Fitness.
This selfie I took in the circuit weight training room today isn't very flattering. But the gloomy old man look did mirror my mood, since I much prefer not wearing a mask while using the Stairmaster or lifting weights.
I wasn't alone. Several other older people were wearing masks. First time I've seen this since rejoining the club after it appeared that Covid was in a marked decline in our area.
But because so many Marion County residents are refusing to get vaccinated, those of us with the smarts to get the shot are forced to pay a mask-on price for their foolishness.
It's now known that the Delta variant is so potent, fully vaccinated people can spread the variant just as easily as unvaccinated people could spread the original Covid virus.
Plus, breakthrough cases among the vaccinated are becoming more common. A Salem Reporter story says:
From July 18 to 24, Marion County recorded 238 people newly infected with Covid, Rothenberger said. Of those, 51 were “breakthrough” cases where someone fully vaccinated tested positive for the virus, about 21% of the total. Breakthrough cases were about 16% of all Marion County cases the previous week, Rothenberger said.
Wyatt said the county has recorded 340 breakthrough cases total since vaccines began rolling out. Of all breakthrough cases, 29 people have been hospitalized and two have died.
Adults 70 and older remain the group most likely to be hospitalized, Wyatt said, and the rare serious breakthrough cases have mostly been among older people. But she said the share of adults 60 and under hospitalized with Covid has been increasing recently.
Rad said in the hospital, people not vaccinated against Covid become much more seriously ill.
“The breakthrough cases that we have are not as severe and are very much the exception to the rule,” Rad said.
OK, but I'd rather not be an exception to the rule.
Sure, 29 hospitalizations and two deaths among vaccinated people in Marion County isn't a lot. However, when I read that the Delta variant can cause flu-like symptoms for several weeks in someone vaccinated, that's reason enough for me to wear a mask while in an indoor public place.
Recently the CDC published a map showing where masks should be worn indoors because a county has substantial or high Covid spread. Marion County is a "substantial" county.
What makes this so deeply irritating is how unnecessary it all is. Covid vaccines are free, safe, highly effective, and easily available.
Yet the Salem Reporter story says:
About 179,000 Marion County residents - just over half the county’s population - have been vaccinated against Covid, according to Oregon Health Authority data. In Polk County, 55% of the population has been vaccinated, about 46,000 people. Children under 12 still cannot be vaccinated against Covid.
Those numbers put the Salem area below Portland metro counties, which have vaccination rates ranging from 58% to nearly 65%, but well above vaccination rates of 30% to 40% in many eastern Oregon counties.
What a non-surprise.
The more Democrats in a county, the higher the vaccination rate. Marion County is a swing county, basically, so our vaccination rate is in-between the more liberal Portland metro counties and the more conservative eastern Oregon counties.