Some rays of sunshine have permeated the Republican fog of coronavirus disinformation. It turns out that despite rather shoddy coverage putting the number of “breakthrough” infections in absolute terms (rather than as a percentage of cases) and ongoing lies from opportunistic politicians, more Americans are waking up to the danger posed by the delta variant.

CNN reports: “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday that 816,203 additional doses were administered, the fifth straight day the agency recorded more than 700,000 shots in arms. That brings the total number of doses administered to 346,456,669, according to the CDC numbers released Sunday. The seven-day average of administered doses is now 662,529 per day, the highest average since July 7.” On Monday, the United States finally reached a milestone: 70 percent of adults have received at least one shot.

Many mainstream media outlets have not covered themselves in glory of late. Too many stories have relied on sensationalistic headlines, erroneous assumptions and bad math in reporting on the rise of the delta variant of the coronavirus. At the White House’s covid-19 task force briefing on Monday, one reporter asked why Americans think health-care professionals are downplaying the number of breakthrough cases. Hmmm, maybe because so much reporting has confused Americans by putting out breakthrough numbers without context?

Thankfully, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained at the briefing that Americans are eight times as likely to contract the coronavirus if they are unvaccinated and 25 times more likely to be hospitalized or die. “An important point to bring up is that the greater percentage of people that are vaccinated, even with a high degree of protection, the absolute number of breakthrough infections might appear high,” he explained. “That’s not the critical number. The critical number is what is the proportion of the vaccinated people who, in fact, are getting breakthrough infections. And that’s the critical one.”

Put differently, as CNN recently did: “More than 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have not had a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death.” More than 6,500 breakthrough cases as of July 26 may sound like a lot, but that means “less than 0.004% of fully vaccinated people had a breakthrough case that led to hospitalization and less than 0.001% of fully vaccinated people died from a breakthrough Covid-19 case.” And of those cases, three-quarters are among the elderly.

The good news is that — even though Republican disinformation on vaccines has not let up — the uptick in cases and hospitalizations (virtually all among unvaccinated people) in red-state areas has permeated the right-wing media echo chamber. In Texas, for example, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has been among the worst public figures, actively blocking vaccine and mask mandates. Despite his reckless conduct, the Houston Chronicle reports, “More than 65 percent of Texans said they would support vaccine mandates issued by federal, state or local governments; the national average was 64 percent. More than 70 percent of Texans would support vaccine requirements to board an airplane; more than 62 percent would support vaccine mandates for children returning to schools; and 67 percent would support them for students returning to universities.” Now, they just have to let their elected leaders know.

While it is true that Democrats far outpace Republicans in support for mandates (84 percent among Democrats, compared with 45 percent among Republicans), the Chronicle makes clear that “support among both groups has ticked upward since a previous survey this spring.” Other differences persist: Urbanites are much more likely than rural Americans to support vaccine mandates, and “women are nearly 10 percentage points less likely to support mandates than men, though both groups are highly supportive overall, at 60 percent and 69 percent.”

It is not hard to figure out the reason for this surge in vaccinations. When local papers blast out news of hospital overcrowding and deaths of local figures, the pandemic finally becomes “real” — even for covid-19 deniers. Add in new mandates for employees of the federal government, some cities and many big corporations, and powerful incentives emerge for the unvaccinated to get their shots.

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It is a tragedy that it took the delta surge to rouse some Americans to the crisis. We can only pray that more wake up before the hospitalization and death toll rises any further, forcing us once again to close down and retreat to our homes.