The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is full of advice about Covid-19.
It’s safe to do this. It’s not safe to do that.
But we don’t need advice. We need rules.
This week the CDC changed its advice to all staff, students and teachers when schools reopen. Instead of wearing masks in schools only when unvaccinated, people should wear masks regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.
This is necessary to protect children who aren’t eligible for the vaccine and slow the spread of new more infectious variants of the virus, representatives said.
The problem is that too many Americans don’t listen to advice – especially if it goes against their beliefs.
And there are a significant number of Americans who believe whatever crazy nonsense talk radio, Fox News or their savior Donald Trump tell them.
Immunologists talking about infectious disease just don’t rate.
So these people aren’t going to listen to the CDC’s advice.
That presents real problems both for them and for us.
First of all, they’re literally killing themselves.
More than 99% of people who die from Covid-19 these days are unvaccinated, and they make up almost the same percentage of recent hospitalizations.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky calls this a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, but they aren’t the only ones paying for it.
We all are.
The Covid-19 pandemic would be effectively over in the United States if everyone who was eligible for the vaccine had received it.
About 56% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, but in many places — especially in rural areas — the number is under 20% despite widespread availability of the drug.
As a result, cases of Covid-19 are on the rise again in most of the United States. In fact, this country leads the world in the daily average number of new infections, accounting for one in every nine cases reported worldwide each day.
The majority of these new cases are the more infectious delta variant, a version of the virus that could jump start cases even among the vaccinated.
And the reason the virus had a chance to mutate and become more resistant to our existing treatments was a ready supply of easy hosts – anti-vaxxers who refused to protect themselves and now have put the rest of the country back at risk.
Their ignorance and selfishness has put all of us in danger.
That makes me mad, and not just at the anti-vaxxers.
I’m mad at the federal government.
You could have done something about this. You SHOULD have done something, but you didn’t.
The Trump’s administration badly bungled the initial stages of the pandemic with late and inadequate international travel bans, failure to use federal authority to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), failure to require mandatory universal paid sick leave for those unable to work due to the virus, and failure to mandate standards for the health and safety of workers.
In contrast, President Joe Biden’s administration has done better in making the vaccine readily available, but still failed to fix many of the problems it inherited and still continually neglecting to mandate anything.
“Hey, Buddy, why don’t you try this?” – is NOT good enough!
We need – “Do this OR ELSE!”
You can’t just make the vaccine available and hope people are smart enough to take it.
They aren’t. Not in America.
Not after decades of allowing lies and disinformation to infect the airwaves. In the name of freedom we’ve let Fox News and the former President poison the minds of admittedly easily lead citizens until their ignorance impacts all of us.
And the antidote to such disinformation – a robust public education system – has been stolen from too many Americans by decades of under funding, rampant school privatization and high stakes testing.
What we need now is to make vaccines a prerequisite to participate in all kinds of social congress – shopping, dinning at restaurants, movies, sporting events, schools, etc. But our government -our FEDERAL government – won’t do that.
Instead it’s a never ending cycle of passing the buck – that’s been our lawmakers response whether Republican or Democrat – to this crisis.
Authority is left it up to the states, who often refuse to allow safety precautions to be regulated or passed the decision on to someone else until it’s being made separately by every minor representative, podunk flunky and school director this side of Mayberry.
What a disgrace!
And here we are again.
The experts are telling us what we should do in the best interests of keeping our children safe. But the federal government refuses to back it up with its full authority.
Just advice. No rules.
Will people be required to wear masks in public schools?
It all depends on what local officials somewhere down the line decide.
In my home state of Pennsylvania, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf announced yesterday that he is not even considering a statewide mask mandate as Coronavirus cases surge nor will he require masks in schools.
Wolf said his strategy to fight the spread of COVID-19 is the vaccine, itself, – the masking mandate was for when there was no vaccine.
“People have the ability, each individual to make the decision to get a vaccine,” Wolf says. “If they do, that’s the protection.”
Meanwhile, Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he’d consider a mask mandate if infections were worse in the county, an area that includes the City of Pittsburgh. Though he suggests schools follow CDC advice, he’s not about to make that decision for them.
So it will be left to local school directors to decide what to do. Probably most of them will allow masks in school but not require them.
It’s a terrible situation with an incredible lack of leadership, but I get it.
School board directors do not have the power of the bully pulpit. They don’t have the power of Chief County Executives, Governors or the President.
If people challenge their decisions (as they probably would) that requires district finances for lengthy court battles and uncomfortable political confrontations for re-election.
None of these folks should have to make these kinds of life and death decisions.
That’s what the President is for. It’s what US Congress is for.
The buck has to stop somewhere. Right!?
But the matter has become so politicized and our representatives so spineless that our entire system hangs by a thread.
What if the federal government mandates masks and certain states or districts don’t listen?
Will its take the national guard to come in and enforce the mandate?
There was a time when lawmakers had the courage to do things like that – to legislate what was in the best interests of society and darn the consequences.
But today’s lawmakers do not have the courage to govern.
And once again, we’re paying for it.
Our society has failed to protect us. It barely functions anymore.
So get set for another rock ‘em sock ‘em school year where kids and adults will get sick.
In the few years since we discovered Covid-19, young children have rarely gotten as sick from the virus as adults. However, that is changing. Infections have increased this summer as the delta variant spread until approximately 4.1 million children have been diagnosed with the disease resulting in about 18,000 hospitalizations and more than 350 deaths.
Add to that the facts that only 30% of kids ages 12 to 17 have been vaccinated, younger children are not eligible for the vaccine and probably won’t be until the end of the year at the earliest.
It’s a recipe for disaster.
The Delta variant is 225% more contagious, contains 1,000% higher viral loads from earlier variants, and hits those levels in just 3 ½ days. Delta has a stronger bond to ACE-2 receptors in nasal passages and lung cells.
Vaccinated people can get infected if exposed to large enough viral loads. Unvaccinated kids could easily have those high viral loads. This means that everyone is a possible link in the chain of transmission.
But it’s not inevitable.
There is something we could do about it if we act now.
No more mere advice!
Pass some laws, make some rules to keep everyone as safe as possible and finally end this pandemic!
It just takes courage and common sense – two things in short supply in today’s United States.
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