Concerns about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus have health officials in Los Angeles County considering new mandatory mask orders. Currently, the county is asking residents to voluntarily mask up in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.

CNN reports the Delta variant has spread to all 50 states, "fueling health experts' concerns about COVID-19 spikes." The report states the Delta variant is "expected to become the dominant strain in the United States," according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. The variant is considered to be more transmissible than other forms of the virus that have been identified to date. It could be an issue as students begin to return to school in the fall.

The World Health Organization said the longer it takes people to get vaccinated against COVID, the more likely the virus is to mutate into more troubling strains.

Bristol County, Massachusetts – including New Bedford and Fall River – has been slow to vaccinate. For whatever reason, folks in these parts have resisted the mass vaccination effort.

It is certainly your right to go vaccine-free. Just remember, though, should the Delta variant or some other strain of COVID result in state health officials issuing mask mandates and restrictions for unvaccinated people, it was your choice.

Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, told CNN this week, "My message is really clear: You should get your kids vaccinated."

This, too, is a very personal decision that should be carefully discussed with your doctors. Whatever your decision about vaccinating yourself and your children, it is just that – your decision. Weigh the pros and cons, but do it soon.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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