Meanwhile, even vaccinated Americans may be hesitant to go out in the face of delta. The mRNA vaccines from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE significantly lower the risk of becoming infected with delta, and in the vast majority of cases they prevent the vaccinated from getting sick enough to be hospitalized or die. But they don’t entirely eliminate the risks — there’s a fairly substantial number of “breakthrough” infections, even among the fully vaccinated. And while that’s rarely life-threatening, there remains the possibility of the protracted symptoms called “long COVID,” even among young people.

Perhaps if this were March 2020, this level of risk wouldn’t be enough to deter Americans from going out to eat and shop. But they’ve had a year to adapt to the habits of social distancing, and many may just decide to extend their pandemic life a little while longer until the threat of delta has passed. To…

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