A highly contagious coronavirus variant erupted in India around December, according to Yale Medicine. I have felt a sense of déjà vu hearing the news about the delta variant, but there is only one difference from other public health warnings: The people I see in public — strangers, friends — seem increasingly relaxed with this news floating around. I have begun to see shopping centers, restaurants and parks filled to the brim with people, many of whom are unmasked.

Because of this, I have started to grow worried about the dangers of softening the mask mandate and opening businesses to the public at full capacity, in the sense that a large number of people are still unvaccinated. Maybe they are vaccinated; it’s impossible to know for sure.

I believe it’s time public officials recognize the danger of the delta variant through public health orders that encourage more people to get vaccinated. Maybe it’s time to bring back mask mandates? Everyone wants a sense of normalcy, so in the name of science, this could be the only solution.

Since being discovered in India, the new strain has spread rapidly across the world. It soon was discovered in the U.S. around March and is spreading quickly; it likely will become the country’s dominant strain.

Since the end of June, the delta variant has made up more than 20 percent of cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has also proven to be 50 percent more contagious than the original virus.

According to Yale Medicine, people who are vaccinated have protection from the delta variant. However, people who are not taking safety precautions and are unvaccinated will be the ones at risk — not only themselves but the people they have spent time around. Getting vaccinated is the best option for full protection over their health.

This new variant is dangerous to young people: children, teens and young adults. With so many people over the age of 50 already fully vaccinated, young people are prime targets for the virus. A recent study in the United Kingdom shows that people under the age of 50 are 2.5 times more likely to become infected with the delta variant. Just another reason to be vaccinated if you’re over the age of 12.

I have been fully vaccinated for around four months now, and what I can say is it has helped me avoid the health risks of COVID-19, while also giving me confidence when it comes to going outside in public. I am more comfortable taking my mask off around friends and in restaurants to eat. I also have felt healthier since I got the vaccine.

I strongly encourage unvaccinated teens in Santa Fe to try to consider this new information. If parents don’t cooperate, talk to them. Make a difference on not only your health but for others, too.

Sofia Barker will be a junior at the Academy for Technology and the Classics. Contact her at


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