After an interminable spring, we were finally able to take a summer holiday. We headed to Belize, and as always I took a ton of pictures.
Naturally the pandemic was in the forefront of our mind - we hadn't flown, and weren't sure what to expect. We also needed a test to get back the US, and of course rules for international travel were changing constantly, so we weren't sure if there would be any other problems.
In the end, our time in Belize was quite smooth. Masking was required in public, and on the mainland seemed to be adhered to quite closely. At the resorts it was not really done, and I couldn't decide if that was because they were confident of their safety measures, or they didn't really care, or they didn't think the guests would follow the rules. Any of those options is possible.
We had a lot of time to chat with our hosts, because tourism hadn't fully returned (in fact, many of them had only recently come back to working in the industry). There were a lot of questions raised by facts like everyone working seemed to come from the western rural area, and worked multi-week shifts. We learned that the closed border with their larger neighbor to the west (Guatemala) had meant many smaller farmers hadn't had a buyer for their crops. There were a ton of unexpected (to us) consequences of the pandemic for a small country.
And the whole time we were there, Covid cases in Arkansas were skyrocketing. The Delta variant had landed in the South and was spreading basically uncontrolled due to low vaccination rates and a lack of safety measures.
We are currently at near-record levels of new infections and hospitalizations (yesterday was the single biggest one-day growth of hospitalizations since the pandemic began). There is a law, passed this spring when the legislature, completely controlled by Republicans who were apparently competing to write the worst law, was feeling much more confident that the pandemic was under control, which forbids any public entity from requiring a mask. This has obviously aged like milk, and now there is pressure from some quarters to roll the law back. With school starting soon and the Delta variant seeming to spread more easily in the young, school districts are hearing from concerned parents (though not as many as you might expect). Our hospital is full here in town, and across the state beds are quite scarce. This means any visit to a hospital for any reason is now hitting a roadblock.
It's not clear at this stage how it will all play out - rural states have not had the massive explosions that we expected (relatively speaking), perhaps because they are rural. But it's summer, people are outdoors, etc. So how this plays out into the fall is anyone's guess.