Terry H. Schwadron
April 26, 2021
We’ve vaccinated about 140 million Americans against covid, and the demand now is suddenly slowing, despite throwing open the remaining age and eligibility restrictions. In some areas of the country, demand has become a relative trickle.
But instead of celebrating, we’re arguing about the best way to show off proof of vaccine to an employer or airline — even as tens of thousands of new cases still emerge daily here and India is reporting 350,000 new cases a day.
How about this: Let’s create a wavier record for those people who want to pass on the vaccines, whether out of medical skepticism, inconvenience, fear or political reasons, and then get busy giving the doses to those who will use it, including other countries that. The point of ”pandemic” is that coronavirus will continue to recycle and mutate and to return — without regard to whether Americans are tired of dealing with the disease.
It won’t stop the pandemic, of course, but it will stop the annoying debate.
After months in which people fell over one another to be the first in line to get vaccines, we’re now finding ourselves subject to a constant bombard of differing public preaching in Congress and elsewhere about the need to simply remove coronavirus from our lives as if by relative magic — whether by the claim of personal liberty to get ill, or expectation that herd immunity has or is about to kick in, or to avoid “control” by Bill Gates or some mysterious, international deep-state cartel, or by a rising number of statistical studies (here’s one reported by Newsmax) that insist that at this point of vaccinations, we may be overstating the continuing worst impacts.
For a host of reasons, we are seeing the percentage of fatalities from covid decreasing, even as new cases and hospitalizations are continuing at high rates nationwide. Credit vaccines, enough compliance with public health measures and accumulated knowledge to treat cases early — and the move to a wider population than older Americans with underlying illnesses, particularly those of color.
Still, we’re seeing more people voting with their behaviors to drop the masks or the requirements for masks, we’re seeing vaccine appointment go unmet, and we’re even seeing the liberty arguments for Republicans in particular to emerge as an electioneering campaign rallying cry.
Today’s Ugly American is an entitled First World population that has access to free vaccines for a global pandemic that is refusing to take it, even as suffering continues to settle on India and African countries who can’t afford the medications.
Where We Are
— According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than five million people, or nearly 8% of those who got a first shot vaccines have missed their second doses, reports The New York Times — or more than double the rate among people who got inoculated in the first several weeks of the nationwide vaccine campaign.
— Some 138.6 million have been vaccinated with at least one dose, covering 52% of the eligible population 16 and older and 42% of all Americans. The government has arranged for more vaccines than we have people, and the weekend brought the re-start of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine after a 6-case-of-7-million blood clot report as well as CDC confirmation of studies showing that the vaccines have no ill effect.
— We’re arguing — or increasingly ignoring — advice about how long to wear masks and maintain social distance, states are rapidly and widely removing mask mandates, and even Joe Biden is looking to July 4 as a goal for more resumption of gatherings. We’re seeing confusion about why post-vaccination, masks are needed outdoors.
— We seem to be forgetting that 570,000 Americans are dead from the disease. We want our restaurants and sports arenas.
Meanwhile, we have Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and other mostly Republican leaders in Congress confronting Dr. Anthony Fauci about “personal liberty” concerns about masks rather than anything resembling an organized expression of national will in a country that actually has access to the vaccine to encourage all to take it. It is clear at this point that this debate will be a central plank for 2022 elections to pit a vision of freedom against one of government-sponsored public health.
Only in America.
For me, Biden can at once stop this debate as irrelevant and unhelpful, can genuflect to Republican concerns and can get the country to move on with one simple proposal that would also halt some of the government efforts begging obvious vaccine opponents to take the jab.
Let’s challenge the Congress to pass a waiver bill, simply asking people to use their Social Security identification or (medical insurance number which is used now to take vaccine) to waive their eligibility to the vaccine program as unwanted — for any reason. I want to see Rand Paul and Jim Jordan and those Republican state legislators in so many states tell people that their health is less important than their liberty get agreement into the record — even if those liberties are mostly about going to spring break or opening a gym or restaurants to customers and employees willing to take their chances on getting ill.
I want those names on health records, kept privately of course, formally waiving the treatment. If they change their minds later, so be it, let them deal with their own doctors. Let them deal with their own employers, let them deal with the European country that won’t let them travel without a vaccination record, or a school that requires vaccination for entry.
Immediately, presumably the 140 million number will jump by 100 million. Keep the vaccines in place through the summer for those who still want it, vaccinate the thousands at the border, and let’s start getting the vaccine where people will take it.
Biden is taking heat from other countries because there is what The Washington Post calls “the glaring gap in vaccine access — largely between rich and poor countries, but among some developed nations, too” in which global figures and other national leaders decrying the vaccine plenty in a few nations and the relative drought almost everywhere else.
In the meantime, sign me up for the booster shot.
It’s time to put up or shut up.
The week brought a number of public irritations and exhilarations:
· Rotten Tomato to the conservative majority on the 6–3 U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week that made it easier for judges to set a life sentence in prison for juveniles, that they need not determine that that juvenile offenders are beyond hope of rehabilitation. The case concerned a teenager who killed his grandfather. Adding salt to the wound was that the decision was written by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, himself accused during his confirmation hearings of youthful indiscretions, and the caustic dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who accused the majority of gutting two major precedents without any reasoning.
· Red Hot Peppers to the rocket scientists who this week not only flew the light NASA helicraft
Ingenuity on Mars from a desk in Pasadena but at Space X, whose rocket taxi successfully ferried three crew members on the International Space Station using a reusable rocket. It’s nice to see success.
· Rotten Tomato to Chevron for unleashing its lobbyists on Congress and the State Department on behalf of the brutal military leadership in Myanmar, who, it turns out, depend on money from a natural gas operation there co-owned by Chevon for their operations. The kicker, here, as pointed out by Rachel Maddow, is that Chevron is before Congress now, asking for continuation of taxpayer monies for continuing subsidies of fossil fuel companies. The Biden administration has launched several sanctions against the military coup leaders, but has not yet reached the Chevron dollars.
· Mushy Avocado to the CDC and the White House Covid team for failing to clarify safety concerns about going mask-less now, post vaccination for more than 100 million Americans, while outdoors. Instead, there is confusion, conflicting advice, and a lot of loss of general trust and interest.
· Rotton Tomato to Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., the stolen election advocate, Capitol attack defender and all-around critic of Democrats who distinguished himself as the sole Senator to oppose a bill to target anti-Asian-American hate crimes during the pandemic. What a courageous act.