Diane Clehane, an author and journalist from Greenwich, Connecticut, had planned to go to restaurants and enjoy her favorite meals indoors, travel on the train to New York City to attend the theater and finally take a pandemic-postponed trip to Ireland.
But now COVID-19 cases in some Connecticut counties are more than doubling amid a surge of the highly transmissible Delta variant in the U.S. This rise is shown to affect the unvaccinated in the majority of cases, leading the CDC director to call it "a pandemic of the unvaccinated."
For fully vaccinated Clehane, the developments make her fear that she'll get COVID from an unvaccinated person -- a small percentage of vaccinated people are still testing positive for the virus -- leading her to nix her plans.
"I find it infuriating and absurd," Clehane tells PEOPLE, noting that the vaccine has been "proven to save lives, in a timeframe that we actually have seen at work."
She questions why people who won't get vaccinated "feel this is an assault on their personal liberties."
"You know what's a real assault on your personal liberties?" she says. "Being on a respirator."
"This virus is a worldwide crisis, killing millions, and you believe the vaccine is a government plot? You are a danger to the rest of us, I'm furious about it," she continues, adding that there is a law requiring her dog to get his rabies vaccine.
Clehane is far from alone in her angst and impatience towards those who refuse to get vaccinated.
"I find myself doing all of these extra things and being thoughtful, because I learned from my grandmother to not just care for yourself but care for your neighbor," Keisha Bryan, a North Carolina psychotherapist, told NBC News.
"Now I'm getting to the place where I'm angry — angry that I see other people not doing the same, not getting vaccinated when they can. Don't we all want to get back to normal?"
To hasten that return to "normal," some universities, government and health officials and private businesses are calling for vaccine mandates. On Thursday, President Joe Biden is expected to announce a vaccine mandate for federal employees.
"It's like the sun has come up in the morning and everyone is arguing about it," Jim Taylor, a retired civil servant from Louisiana, where less than half the adults are fully vaccinated, told The New York Times. "The virus is here and it's killing people, and we have a time-tested way to stop it — and we won't do it. It's an outrage."
In nearby Alabama, a conservative state with one the lowest vaccination rates in the country, "it's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down," said Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican. "These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain."
Alabama is among multiple southern states seeing a spike in COVID cases this past month. The Associated Press reported Monday that there were 947 total COVID-19 patients in Alabama hospitals that day, a 204-person increase from the beginning of the month.
In Utah, a state with less than half the population fully vaccinated, Aimee McLean, a fully vaccinated nurse case manager at University of Utah Hospital, told the Times she worries about contracting the coronavirus from a patient and giving it to her father, who has a serious chronic lung disease.
She suggested to the Times that health insurers link coverage of hospital bills to immunization, and that if "you choose not to be part of the solution, then you should be accountable for the consequences."
While insurers have not yet announced those kinds of sanctions, on Monday, New York City's mayor and California officials announced COVID-19 vaccination requirements for their employees.
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Also that day, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is requiring all of its healthcare providers to be vaccinated, and 56 medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, called for the requirement that all healthcare providers be vaccinated.
While some states held lotteries as a catalyst for the unvaccinated to get their shots, healthcare providers and health departments are also trying a more personal approach.
Hearing from someone who has had COVID-19 or lost a loved one to the disease makes an impact, according to Dr. Stacy Wood, a professor of marketing at North Carolina State University who has published research on the topic.
"People are wary of the pandemic as being overblown," she told ABC News. "But if that person [who's had COVID-19] is actually coming around and giving talks at your church or Toastmasters group or something where you can actually see them ... I think there's a lot of power there, because it takes that media filter away and makes people think that it's much more trustworthy."
It was the trust that Dorrett Denton has in her doctor that persuaded the home health aide from New York City to get vaccinated, the Times reported.
"She says to me: 'You've been coming to me from 1999. How many times did I do surgery on you, and your life was in my hands? You trust me with your life, don't you?'" Denton told the newspaper. "I said, 'Yes, doctor.' She said, 'Well, trust me on this one.'"
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