Hello? Hello there? Hey! Yes, you! The ones who forgot their masks, stopped using hand-sanitizer, started hugging people again or maybe French-kissing strangers on the street — whatever: we don’t tell people how to party.

We know that you know the deadly, global COVID-19 pandemic has taken a turn, mostly for the better, as more and more Americans become vaccinated, leaving fewer and fewer to just act like they’re vaccinated, perhaps even going so far as to score one of those fake vaccination cards. But the coronavirus itself does not actually check paperwork, so carrying bogus vax docs is a little like cheating on an eye exam: You have perfect eyesight, but you can’t see anything.

But yes, vaccinations have drastically reduced transmission in North Carolina. Active-case numbers have been dropping steadily since the vaccines were introduced in the early spring. But even now, as mass-vaccination sites are shutting down due to lack of willing arms, just 52 percent of adults in the Old North State are fully vaccinated. That’s just 42 percent of the entire population, several pie-slices short of the figure where herd immunity becomes a factor in our survival.

Shorthand: About a third of the people in the bar have probably not been vaccinated.

Here’s another, more exact statistic: In May, unvaccinated Americans made up 99 percent of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths.

This high un-vaccination rate remains, even after the governor declared a $1 million lottery for everyone who gets it. The first of four winners was declared today: Shelly Wyramon, a teacher from Winston-Salem.

It’s troubling because: Why would you not get a life-saving vaccine after a deadly pandemic? Yes, there are legitimate, health-related reasons not to get any of the vaccine, but the notion that all 48 percent of unvaccinated North Carolinians legitimately suffer from one or more of them is statistically improbable.

This is also because variants form in these pockets of the unprotected, which is how we got the Delta Variant. It’s a persistent new strain, more contagious than the ones that came before and which can thwart the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to data from Delta outbreaks in the United Kingdom.

And we cannot forget that the US is in far better shape than most of the rest of the world, where the Delta Variant, which originated in India, has caused widespread outbreaks in Europe, Africa and even Australia, which is in lockdown again after months without restrictions.

This is all to say that, no matter how much we all want it to be, this pandemic is not over. How it ends is entirely up to us.

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