A common refrain plays again: vaccinate, social distance, wear masks

Mask up, folks.

As the delta variant drives Covid-19 rates up to 2020 levels, the business community wonders what the future holds.

The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business has struggled along with the rest of you, adopting a hybrid schedule that blends working from home much of the time with working in our office a few days a month on a schedule that ensures there are never more than a few people in our small quarters.

But as Covid-19 cases mount and hospitals report diverting patients to other facilities because their ICUs are full, the uncertainty is giving way to something else. Certainty.

We are certain that it will take the entire community to stop this mutating virus, to wrangle it into a manageable illness we know will be with us for years to come but which doesn’t have to inflict the damage we’ve seen over the past 18 months.

That means we need to recommit to the entire menu of options at our disposal: vaccinations, social distancing and masks.

For some, that even means canceling events. The Kadlec Foundation and Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation canceled their much-needed fundraisers, saying low vaccination rates in the Tr-Cities made it unsafe for them to hold in-person events.

Leadership Tri-Cities canceled its yearlong educational program for the second year in a row.

The pressure is mounting for unvaccinated Washington residents to reconsider as well.

Gov. Jay Inslee ordered most state employees, as well as workers in private health care and long-term care settings, to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. He encouraged higher education, local governments, the Legislature, statewide elected officials and the private sector to do the same.

The message, not the messenger, is key: “We have the tool — the vaccine — to get this era behind us,” Inslee said.

It’s a serious move we hope will help convince vaccine holdouts that their own health and the health of their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers is at risk from a quick-spreading virus.

The governor isn’t alone in mandating vaccinations against Covid-19.

Tyson Foods announced it would require employees to be vaccinated in July. The food giant with a beef processing plant at Wallula was plagued by breakouts. Three employees died.

This was before the vaccine. Today we have an effective weapon to prevent infection or reduce the symptoms in breakthrough cases.

Going to work shouldn’t require assessing the risk of getting sick over the reward of a paycheck.

We’re resilient; we’ve done this before and can again.

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