Yes, I was specifically comparing to 'last year at this time' as was stated. I was not 'skewing' anything but answering your request for how that news story could be true. There's also some seasonality, so comparing to the previous year isn't unreasonable. September 2020, was also not a trough. The trough was in June 2020 at 20k cases per day and 500 deaths. The real spike started in November 2020 - I hope we don't see a worsening in 2021 as we head into flu season.
And yes, if we compare the end of the summer 2021 to the height of the holiday travel season pre-vaccine, it shows lower numbers. I'm not sure what that proves, other than that we are only a bit over half our peak infection rate. Which no one was claiming we were higher than our worst ever peak?
Yes, this is true. More vaccination and masking would put us in a 'better' position, but there's no evidence it would eliminate risk or eradicate a global virus, just reduce that risk significantly. Same with other interventions - less events, no in-person schools, more social distancing. All things that would put us in a better position.
By the use of the term "skewing" I did not mean to suggest bad intent. Comparisons with a year ago are one measure of infection rates. We are down from the high of approx. 250,000 pre-vaccines per day despite the new challenges posed by the highly contagious Delta variant combined with anti-mask/anti-vax behaviors. Which to my mind is a far more significant metric.
Pre-Delta the vaccine effectiveness gave many hope that we could return to a sense of normalcy. Those hopes have largely been dashed. It would be a very different state of affairs if we'd been able to maintain the low rates of infections that followed the initial phase of vaccinations. too many human being have made choices that have fueled the spread--unfortunately. We don't need to make perfect the enemy of the good. I'd settle for good. Instead we are dealing with a catastrophe.