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pandemic

The Race to Vaccinate Runs Up Against States’ Rush to Open

It's a race between foolishness and time, between states lifting virus restrictions without waiting for vaccinations to make lifting safe, pitted against Biden pleading forbearance because there'll be enough vaccine for every adult by the end of May. It's the unending war between left and right. Even a pandemic is political.

Governors and local officials, mostly of red states, are ending the one mandate that health officials and common sense tells us is the most effective practice, the one safeguard that permits near full restoration of the economy and the return of kids to school: the wearing of masks.

That opens an ominous gap, with health experts fretting that we are heading into a fourth surge. That's what has the new chief of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Rochelle Walensky, expressing "the recurring feeling I have of impending doom". She pleads that we "just please hold on a little while longer" because "we have so much promise and potential, but right now I'm scared".

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who led the Food and Drug Administration during Trump's first two years, doesn't expect a "true" fourth wave of Covid-19 but thinks the country should wait a few weeks longer before easing mitigation efforts.

After a steady decline in cases, the U.S. is now topping 60,000

new cases a day and over a thousand deaths. We just hit an astounding four million vaccinations in a single day after averaging 3.1 million daily for a week, but we are coming up against some 40% of Republicans who say they will refuse vaccination, preferring either to let others attain herd immunity for them rather than they doing their part, or preferring to let Covid-19 live on.

So Michigan, a state with an abundance of militias who eschew mask wearing and prefer kidnapping their governor in protest over lockdowns, is confronting the country's biggest Covid surge. The positivity rate just hit 12% with over 7,000 new cases a day. State officials have identified five variants of the coronavirus in Michigan, including the first instance in this country of the Brazilian P.1 mutation, with the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the United Kingdom causing the most illness.

A fourth surge over the next couple of months could allow the several foreign variants to take hold — a race between vaccines and variants — possibly giving the virus an opening to develop further mutations that could render current vaccines ineffective.

And yet governors are opening wide. Across the lake from Michigan, Governor Tony Evers is responsible for public health, but Wisconsin's supreme court just struck down his mask mandate saying he had exceeded his authority.

Massachusetts ended restaurant capacity limits. South Carolina ended its limits on mass gatherings. Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared the state entirely open with Mississippi following suit, prompting President Biden to call it "Neanderthal thinking…everything's fine, take off your mask and forget it".


No distance, no masks at Miami street party over spring break
With Florida and Texas fully lifting restrictions at the beginning of March, the young poured in for spring break revelry, heedless of caution. Showing remarkable irresponsibility, The Wall Sreet Journal ran an op-ed titled "Come Back to Florida for Spring Break". Aside from it being a blatant commercial, the writer straightway shows his politics over health, referring to "Covid panic" and saying the media depicts college students as "marauding fools" — which they indeed turned out to be, packing the streets, dancing on top of cars, causing Miami to declare a state of emergency and an 8:00 P.M. curfew, and provoking over a thousand arrests, a third of them felonies.

this land of liberty

The other element perpetuating Covid-19 is those across the land who refuse to wear a mask because they think that testifies to their masculinity, even though the foe is an invisible and infinitesimal wisp measuring a thousandth the width of a human hair. They insist on their "liberty" — constitutional liberty, of course — the "freedom" to do as they please. Their immorality is striking. They risk getting ill and falling upon the hospitals across the land where we worry about those doctors and nurses, emotionally wrung out, suffering from daily seeing people dying, emotionally distraught over helplessness in stopping this contagion, even suffering from feelings of guilt in the belief that they have failed, and 3,600 of them dead from caring for us.

We worry that they will decide they have had enough and finally quit to preserve what's left of their sanity. For those proud imbeciles who intend to shun responsible measures such as mask-wearing and vaccination, who will themselves then add to the burden of an exhausted health system, exposing health care professionals to the sickness they bring, for them can’t there be a special place in Hell reserved?

setting the example

Of course, foolhardy exposure to the coronavirus is nothing new. There were the examples all last year of President Trump drawing unmasked crowds to rallies across the country. After his own illness from the virus, he went on a blitz of superspreader events leading up to the election — 15 in September alone — with few in the audience wearing face coverings. In August, he celebrated his re-nomination before a closely-seated, mask-free assemblage at night on the South Lawn of the White House (a flagrant violation of the Hatch Act with no consequences, by the way). In September, he held a gathering in the White House Rose Garden to announce judge Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, with guests packed tightly in folding chairs and again nary a mask in sight. For one's loyalty to Trump to be noticed, one needed to do as Trump did, when he decided about masks, "I don't see it for myself, I just don't". That recklessness was documented in our, "Has Trump Created a Death Cult?" last fall.

The Journal made excuses for Trump's contracting the virus after his refusing to wear a mask. It "really isn't all that surprising" said an editorial in October, "He's running a government and running for re-election [which] requires by necessity contact with numerous people, and it's simply not realistic to think he can do his job and not come into contact with infected individuals". Then however did always-masked Joe Biden make it to the White House and is now doing that job without contracting Covid-19?

infighting

The virus is Fauci's fault. Just ask Peter Navarro, Trump's adviser on trade with China. On Fox News, a clip had just aired in which Dr. Anthony Fauci says that in January a year ago he made what he boasts was his best decision, to proceed full-speed with a vaccine. Navarro launched a tirade:.

" Fauci is a sociopath and a liar. He had nothing to do with the vaccine. The father of the vaccine is Donald J. Trump….Fauci is the father of the actual virus. This virus...came from the Wuhan lab and basically we had Fauci not only funding that lab with American taxpayer dollars,...He allowed the Chinese Communist Party, the Peoples' Liberation Army, to genetically engineer a virus using gain of function. I call it the Fauci virus now….he's the father of the virus that's killed over a half a million Americans".

The Fox News host agreed that "there are a lot of questions out there". The failure to challenge fit the Fox News lesson plan. Laura Ingraham, host at the 10 o'clock hour, sneered at “mask-mania” and said “there is zero hard evidence of benefit” from mask-wearing, which told her audience to risk a ghastly death until hard evidence showed up some day. When the new variants appeared, there was the suggestion that we wear two masks. That got a laugh out of Fox's Martha MacCallum who suggested why not wear ten? Prominent Fox News hosts such as Ainsley Earhardt and Jeanine Pirro were mocked on social media for wearing masks. “Take off the masks,” read one insult. “You are way too smart for that!!!”. Other hosts have guests like Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald, who said that every American adhering to a mask mandate “has been turned into a walking billboard of fear.” Fox News host Tomi Lahren labeled an Instagram video #BURNTHEMASKS, calls them "face diapers", government mandates "tyranny", and said Biden "might as well carry a purse with that mask". Choosing these quotes is "cherry-picking", says Fox.

il suo passaporto, per favore

Surely, anyone who has been vaccinated wants a document to prove it, tantalized by dreams of traveling again. Not to be believed, but that's given rise to the latest Big Brother conspiracy on the right. Immediately labeled "vaccine passports", they will produce a caste system, is the argument, with those who choose not to be vaccinated — 40% of Republicans say they will be holdouts — becoming a second class.

The Miami Heat basketball franchise has created special sections for sports fans who are fully vaccinated and there are assumption that movie chains, restaurants, and companies like Disney will do the same, the revival of their businesses depending on getting rid of social distancing. But Majorie Taylor Greene, unsure which is which, says, “It’s still fascism. Or communism…corporate communism". It's corporations saying we will need "the mark of the beast" to gain admission. David Frum at the Atlantic, a former speechwriter for and special assistant to George W. Bush, let's remember, counters with, "A sizable minority of Americans want to use airplanes belonging to others, theme parks belonging to others, sports stadiums belonging to others—without concession to the health of others or the property rights of owners." Exercise of property rights is now communism.

Glenn Greenwald, once of the left — he was sought out by Edward Snowden as the one most reliable to expose the National Security Agency's spying on Americans, but now shifted well to the right — appeared on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" to protest that "Coercing citizens to put a substance into their body that they don’t want" is "a pretty grave invasion of bodily autonomy", siding with the anti-vaxxers who have, after decades of successful vaccination of kids against rubella-mumps-chickenpox, decided public health measures are Orwellian and science is the enemy.

Vaccinations are nothing new. To visit certain countries we have to get vaccinated against certain diseases such as dengue fever. We are vaccinated annually against flu, occasionally to prevent pneumonia, tetanus, shingles. All are voluntary. So are shots to fend off Covid. The holdouts want others to attain herd immunity for them without their help. So they get to watch the Miami Heat from the distanced sections.

And if failure to vaccinate prevents them from travelling abroad, they can't blame our government. Other countries don't want them. Japan, Denmark, China have already introduced vaccine passports. Greenwald thinks that…

"Gathering a new database that can track people in terms of their health…can easily be expanded as government programs often do into a whole variety of other uses…They always promise that it's going to be temporary that it's only going to be for a specific problem.

. Glenn, all they are gathering is that we've been vaccinated. Yet he compares it to the Patriot Act against terrorism, which we never think to eliminate any more.

“It’s a political winner,” says Ford O’Connell, a Florida-based Republican strategist, "an all-out assault on personal freedoms and the Constitution". Republicans think this will play big for recapturing control of Congress in 2022.

How many more ways will America decide to become unhinged?

2 Comments for “The Race to Vaccinate Runs Up Against States’ Rush to Open”

  1. Dr David Barnett

    If you look at the time series of hospitalisation by state you will be unable to discern the points when introductions and liftings of restrictions (masks, distancing, lockdowns etc) happened (even accounting for a time delay).

    In other words: there is zero evidence to support the efficacy of the extraordinary measures enacted purportedly to save lives from Covid. Benefit side: zero. Cost side: huge.

    • Kim Davenport

      The article settles on masks right off. Your blanket statement says there’s no proof mitigation has any effect, including masks, agreeing with Laura Ingraham in the article who says, “’There is zero hard evidence of benefit’ from mask-wearing, which told her audience to risk a ghastly death until hard evidence showed up some day”.
      To say masks are useless makes no sense. It’s a respiratory disease. If you don’t breath it in, you don’t get sick. All our doctors and nurses should throw away their N95s, I suppose.

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