childcovidcasesaugend21-300x168As tens of millions of travelers hit the road  to enjoy the Labor Day weekend, public health officials warned the unvaccinated anew against moving around freely during the holiday marking the unofficial end of summer. Authorities cautioned the vaccinated, too, against letting their guard down as the Delta variant fuels a fourth, deadly surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have spiked after too many of the holidays in recent months, experts say. And the sunny optimism that led health officials to forecast a significant quelling of the coronavirus by this summer’s Independence Day has, of course, wilted in the continuing rise of the Delta onslaught.

The U.S. health care system, already buckling in many regions under the pandemic’s terrible recent spike, underwent more pummeling by raging Western wildfires and a hurricane that drenched the Gulf Coast and then pounded the Northeast with spin-off weather calamities (like a tornado) and drenching rains. The inundation of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York claimed dozens of lives and wreaked havoc on regional infrastructure, even as Gulf Coast residents struggled with unbearable late-summer heat and humidity and without basics like dependable food and water supplies, reliable electric power, and undamaged and livable housing.