By Jacob Derin
Aimee Sisson, the Yolo County’s Health Officer, speaks out about the county as it is on the verge of running out of COVID-19 vaccine doses. She has blamed California’s state government, claiming that it expects too much of the county, and allowed too many people to be eligible for the vaccine given its limited supply. This isn’t a simple story of an overly demanding state government or an inept county administration.
The failures in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout have been severe and pervasive at every stage.
From the outset, the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed has been stuck at impulse. The problem is exemplified by Yolo County’s conflict with the state. In a chaotic year, presided over by a government that devoted itself to the dismantling of America’s civil institutions, nothing about the vaccine distribution has been coordinated effectively. This is a theme that has marked the entire American response to the pandemic.
States have been left to make their own rules, establish their own enforcement mechanisms and secure their own supplies without the federal government’s help. Even as this top-down failure became apparent, another worrying trend began to manifest: people aren’t complying with the CDC or the government’s advice.
Of course, it’s hard to fault people entirely. You can only keep people inside and away from each other for so long. The pandemic’s economic impacts are real, and the mental toll of isolation is no trivial thing. But this is why every day counts, and we’ve wasted crucial time that could have been used effectively in distributing the vaccine.
America has been a country without a leader, but now that Donald Trump is a man without a country, there is cause for hope. This administration has been in power only three days and is already doing its best to change course. But the ship of state turns slowly, and it may be some time before the residents of Yolo County feel their effects in their daily lives.
Until that happens, things will go on as they have been.
Thousands of Americans die each day from COVID-19. Due to the grim epidemiological fact of the delay between a rise in infections and deaths, whatever measures we put into place now won’t be visible in the data until several weeks have passed. This is going to be a dark winter, and in many ways, it already has been.
But, as the government comes back together, finally under competent leadership, the sorts of policy and logistical failures which hit Yolo County this week will be corrected. As frustrating as the pandemic and the response to it has been, it’s worth remembering what an incredible feat the vaccine’s production was. Vaccines typically take years to design, test and distribute.
Coronaviruses are notoriously difficult to control in this way. It’s nothing short of a miracle that a vaccine that is more than 90 percent effective has begun its distribution after only a year in development.
Things will get better, but we will have to work hard to make sure that they do.
Jacob Derin is a third-year English and Philosophy major at UC Davis.
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