Is the Pandemic over?
I guess the answer to that subtitle is that if you are fully vaccinated (i.e., both doses) it kind of is over. You are 95%+ protected from the original but from the latest Delta variant that is rapidly spreading in the USA and the world. This fact alone should encourage all those hesitant people refusing to become vaccinated to get vaccinated.
One party of our trip flew from San Francisco to Kansas City. It seems masks are still mandatory still but many were taking them off claiming they were fully vaccinated. The middle seat is no longer vacant on most airlines now. In airports, the mask still is required but no one will challenge you if you remove it despite warnings on signs.
I drove to meet them from Florida-Georgia-Tennessee-Kentucky-Missouri. Being fully vaccinated, I felt a bit invincible regarding the virus. My supply of masks in the glove compartment was little used. Whether it was at a rest stop, a gas station, restaurant, restroom, or hotel lobby, only a few signs said that masks were required and judging from the people within them, was ignored 100%. I guess everyone in the USA is vaccinated (not!) or maybe they simply do not believe that a pandemic happened or is still a threat. Few people even socially distanced themselves despite the markings on the floor. The exception usually were the poor employees who HAD to wear the mask but even in some restaurants the staff was not wearing masks.
By car, we travelled to the Smokey Mountains National Park, where we thought might not be crowded due to Covid. LOL, what a shock. Traffic was bad, people all over the place (and this was a weekday). The only places away from people was along remote hiking paths but the two main panoramic viewing sites were jammed with people. In Gatlinsburg, it was a total nightmare with traffic and people, most not wearing masks or distancing. It was like in pre-Covid times. It reminded me of a miniature Las Vegas strip.
We travelled down to Ocoee, TN., to do some white water rafting. No masks required anywhere and we all got on a bus with the rafts to get to the head waters. Again, it was like our first time in 2019 with regards to the pandemic virus. Being outdoors is safe. Our hotel there did not require any virus mandates and even the staff did not wear masks. I highly doubt if they were all fully vaccinated, but since I was and so was my daughter, did I care? Not really.
The same can be said upon reaching Florida at the Silver State Springs Park, although the staff were wearing masks and capacity limits in the glass bottom boat remained in effect. At our hotel, no masks, free breakfast.
We continued back to our home base in Venice. Walking into Walmart was no longer limited in capacity, masks were optional but most did not wear them and there was no social distancing at the checkout.
We then travelled to the Florida Keys for some snorkeling! It was pretty much the same story that we had encountered from Missouri and the other states. In Miami, where the virus had been rampant just six months prior, it was like, it was gone! Only a few places required a mask and actually tried to enforce it. In most cases, it was only required for employees. We launched at Islamorada on a crowded catamaran with music blasting. The only concern running through everyone minds relating to the virus was how effective the disinfectants were when cleaning the snorkel and mask against the virus. That worry went to the wind as we jumped in the warm waters to explore coral reefs and fish. My only scare was that a Nurse shark swam right under me! At the end of the trip, our gear was tossed in a bucket filled with some sort of solution for cleansing. Like I said, this was just a passing thought for most, but it is what it is.
Upon docking the boat, the restaurant was fully packed for dinner. We ate there enjoying the view and breeze. Our waiter and the rest of staff did not wear any masks and the tables were not socially distanced.
I guess the moral of the story is get fully vaccinated and then you do not need to worry if anyone is or is not. It is quite clear the new Delta variant is much more contagious and is hitting those not vaccinated, which are now mostly much younger people. India and Philippines are getting hit with the new variant harder because there are many not vaccinated. Even a partially vaccinate person who gets the Delta will suffer less, while fully vaccinated people have no worries about it.
There really is no valid reason not to be vaccinated.