Staying safe as COVID-19 cases rise with highly contagious Delta variant

August 16, 2021

What you need to know to stay safe as COVID-19 cases rise across the U.S.

By Regence

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, leaves many vaccinated Americans wondering how to move forward while staying safe and preventing infection. This includes for travel, social gatherings, school, showing proof of vaccination and more.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendation that fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in public while in areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Vaccinated people should also continue to follow physical distancing guidelines and check other safety protocols required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

Delta variant and vaccine effectiveness

The Delta variant is infecting unvaccinated people primarily, surging in states with low vaccination rates. The CDC says 97% of people who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated. The best protection from COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness. The CDC’s Dr. Rochelle Walensky acknowledged that breakthrough cases in vaccinated people are expected, but that those infections are very rare and typically mild.

Travel for vaccinated people

Check with the public health authorities of wherever you are traveling to learn about local mandates and recommendations. It is also important to know the community’s vaccination rate and reported cases, which will help you decide how to best protect yourself. Travel by air, bus, subway and train still requires that you wear a mask, which can lower the risk. The longer the travel, however, the more exposure and risk.

Getting the gang back together

For many people, summer months usually mean social events like barbecues, leisurely get-togethers, family reunions and weddings. We all want to enjoy our favorite summer activities—and we still can in most cases, as long as we’re flexible and plan ahead for everyone’s safety.

It’s best to choose an outdoor activity like a backyard barbeque or outdoor seating at a restaurant. Consider masking up when indoors and share an elbow-bump rather than a hug. If you are attending a crowded public event, it is wise to mask up.

Back to school

Get up to date with your school district’s rules for COVID-19 safety. It is likely if your child rides the bus, they will need to mask up. Prepare your kids for returning to the classroom by getting them to their primary care provider for their check-up and keeping them current on all their immunizations. Find more helpful tips and our Regence back-to-school guide here.

Immunizations aren’t just for kids

Even adults need to consider getting immunizations. If you haven’t yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s important do to so. To find a location near you, check But it’s also important to check with your primary care provider to confirm you are current with other immunizations. Vaccines help protect us from preventable diseases and in many cases have eliminated disease, like measles and polio in global communities with high vaccination rates.

Proof of vaccination

Some governments and business now require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for certain activities. While there is currently no universal vaccine passport or other form of proof, most places accept your original CDC vaccine card . This can also be a scanned copy or photo saved on a phone. For your protection avoid posting selfies with your vaccination card. Try to steer clear of independent vaccine-pass apps and websites, unless a business requires it. If you lost your vaccine card, contact your state’s immunization information system. The CDC’s website can direct you there.

Stay summertime safe and social

Keeping ourselves and others healthy is the top priority. So, be creative and innovative while planning your summertime fun with family and friends. Enjoy your time together—and stay safe.