What to do about the delta blues

The fourth COVID wave is well underway, but what does it mean for your next trip?

Everyone's got the delta blues.

That may sound like a track from an old Muddy Waters record, but I think you know what I'm talking about.

COVID infections surged again this week in the United States. More than 83 percent are delta variant cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The response to the newest health crisis has been interesting. Some are pretending delta doesn't exist. Others are failing to make sensible plans, while still others are just running scared.

But few are asking how the delta variant will affect the summer travel season now in progress — or the upcoming fall and holiday travel period. Maybe they should.  

FIRST THINGS FIRST: I'd love to hear what you think of the delta variant. How will it affect your upcoming travel plans? Push the red button to leave your comment.

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Downplaying delta is not the solution

It seems as if people want to sweep this surge under the rug and keep moving.

Some have their reasons. I feel a little sorry for Delta Air Lines, which shares a name with the dangerous COVID variant. 

“We just call it the variant,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said earlier this month. 

My sympathy is somewhat limited. Delta is a wildly erratic airline to cover as a journalist, alternating between cooperative and confrontational. 

If passengers want to think they named an airline after a dangerous COVID variant, maybe that feels like a little bit of comeuppance. It's karmic payback for all those times Delta tried to threaten a columnist for reporting truth. My editor, Andy, even thought of a new slogan for Air COVID: "Delta is ready, but we're not."

Renaming a variant won't fix the problem, though. Nor will downplaying it, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did in a news conference late last week. He said the surge was seasonal and hardly mentioned delta — the variant, not the airline. (At least DeSantis encouraged Floridians to get vaccinated, which is a good thing since Florida leads the nation in new COVID cases.)

No, I think we have to look this one straight in the eye and ask: What's this one gonna do? 

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What about the rest of the summer?

It isn't going to be an easy summer. Los Angeles has already reinstated an indoor mask mandate. Other cities and states are sure to follow as the number of delta cases increases (and it will). 

Now more than ever, travelers are divided into two groups — vaccinated and unvaccinated. I've written about this division before. And it's caused quite a stir among readers. The comments section is only for the brave.

I haven't seen this much uncertainty since the beginning of the pandemic. If I had a crystal ball, it would probably tell me there's going to be a patchwork of mask requirements, an even deeper division between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and lots and lots of controversy. 

It's going to keep my brother busy with his provocative art, that's for sure.

This is, in military terms, a target-rich environment. Look at all these characters! Desperate airlines that have pocketed billions in government bailouts. Anti-vaxxers who would rather die than get a potentially life-saving inoculation. On the other side, vaccine proponents who think it's the height of irresponsibility to not get vaccinated. 

And as if that's not enough, a summer of wild weather, featuring heat domes, hurricanes and (am I allowed to say this?) the consequences of climate change. Please don't cancel me for saying that.

What a strange, strange summer. It will end soon, but not before descending into even more chaos.

What to do about your delta blues

How come all this is happening at once? It would be easy to say, in the words of Muddy Waters, 'I don't know why."

But we do know why we have the delta blues. Doctors say too few people have been vaccinated. I'm a little troubled by the "breakthrough" infections among vaccinated people, but we can certainly debate that issue.

The cure for the delta blues — like the blues itself — is time. And, dare I also say, a lot of Pfizer and Moderna shots.

The more interesting question is: How will this change the way you travel? Are you going to stay home again, waiting to leave home until COVID is over, once and for all? Will you call off your fall travel plans or stay put during the holidays? What about next summer?

I think we shouldn't let these delta blues get the best of us. Take it from me. I have a lot of experience with the blues, and this summer has been no exception. Don't let these blues stop you from your next adventure. 

But get vaccinated, please.

Your turn, my friends. Are you changing your travel plans because of the delta variant? Is the variant stopping you from reaching the destination you want to visit? I'd love to get your feedback.

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