When Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that the state would lift the majority of its COVID-19 safety mandates, Steven Nguyen, the owner of the SE Hawthorne boba cafe Fat Straw, began to prepare. He planned to reopen the interior of his cafe two weeks after the restrictions disappeared, which would give him the time to staff up and clean up the space.
But in those two weeks, the delta variant — a highly contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus — gained ground throughout the United States, swiftly spreading through unvaccinated communities and even infecting vaccinated individuals. Hospitalizations and deaths crept upward, almost exclusively comprised of unvaccinated individuals. In
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