Rising Delta Cases Are Disrupting Return-to-Office Plans for Companies Around the Country

The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is prolonging a return to the office for workers who have remained home during the pandemic

Return-to-Office Plans
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While COVID-19 cases around the country have plummeted compared to their peak months ago, cases are steadily rising once again due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

That means companies that planned to open their doors to employees in the coming weeks are postponing welcome back ceremonies once again.

Apple, which initially planned to have employees return to its headquarters in early September, now tentatively plans to welcome workers back on Oct. 1, the New York Times reported. "As the situation continues to evolve, we're committed to the same measured approach that we have taken all along," the company told employees, according to the newspaper.

Google — another tech giant — struck a similar tone and announced they were taking a "phased and deliberate" approach to safely bringing more workers to the office, the company told USA Today. Investment bank Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, is considering testing fully vaccinated employees for COVID-19 at its New York Offices, the Times said.

The rise in cases is also affecting smaller businesses. Bochen Wang, who runs a small Bay Area startup, said employees originally slated to return in July are now aiming for an October or November return date because of Delta, he told KPIX.

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As of Tuesday, only 49 percent of Americans (163 million) have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 57 percent have had at least one dose of a vaccine.

Though there has been a slight uptick in "breakthrough" cases, which occurs when a fully vaccinated person becomes infected with the virus, the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks have been among the unvaccinated. If the country is to return to the office as safely as possible, more vaccinations will undoubtedly be required.

Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated 99.2 percent of all deaths from COVID-19 in June involved people who did not receive the vaccine.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Yahoo News that this remained true in July, with early estimates showing 99.5 percent of COVID-19-related deaths this month were made up of unvaccinated people, she said.

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"Those deaths were preventable with a simple, safe shot," she told the outlet. "COVID-19 vaccines are free and available to everyone age 12 and up. Vaccination is our leading public health strategy to stop the Delta variant and bring case rates down in these counties."

"Turning the corner on this pandemic, getting back to normal, and stopping the Delta variant requires all of us to do our part," Walensky said, "and to get vaccinated."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments.PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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