By David M. Greenwald
It was interesting juxtaposing the language that emerged Sunday night at the school board meeting. Local officials were talking about how they were hopeful that we would locally go from the orange tier into the yellow tier in the next few weeks right around the time that schools re-open.
Don’t get me wrong, so long as we are able to do things safely, I don’t have a problem going to five days in-class for the hybrid model. What I do worry about is that each time we have lowered the warnings, we have also lowered our guard and COVID is so pernicious that it creeps right back, stronger than ever.
On a national level yesterday, the number of cases crept up to 70,000—a far cry from the days just two months ago when cases routinely topped 200,000 … but that did mark a nearly 20 percent increase over just two weeks ago.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, was near tears on Monday warning of dire warning and “impending doom” over rising COVID cases.
She warned that, despite the rapid roll out of vaccines, another surge is likely as people let their guards down.
“I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared,” she said. “We do not have the luxury of inaction.”
“When we see that uptick in cases, what we have seen before is that things really have a tendency to surge, and surge big,” Walensky said.
The US trends, officials explained, are mirroring what has happened in Europe where nations are again locking down.
This is not over yet. But you wouldn’t know it from the discussion locally and that’s exactly what concerns me. The thing is, Yolo has been hit less hard than other areas in the region and the country, but what has happened there, comes here. We were back to shelter-in-place as recently as December. We were in purple in January. If we are not careful, we will end up having to shut things down again, even now, even with more than one-third of the public vaccinated.
One difference from last year is the current White House is going to take these rises—right now confined mainly to the Northeast—much more seriously than the predecessor did. Michigan, which has been an interesting contrast between the caution of their governor and the opposition to masks and lockdowns of the state legislature, saw the biggest increase with a 133 percent rise in cases.
The NY Times reports: “Michigan’s increase has not been traced to any one event, but epidemiologists have noted that cases started to rise after the state eased restrictions for indoor dining on Feb. 1 and lifted other restrictions in January.”
That should be a caution, as an increasing number of states are following suit, that letting down the guard now isn’t helpful.
On Monday, Biden agreed with the CDC director who urged Americans to “hold on a little while longer.”
“Please, this is not politics—reinstate the mandate,” President Biden said, adding, “The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place.”
In fact, the issue is more serious than a lot are letting on.
On Monday officials warned that the nation is in a race between the aggressive vaccination campaign and the spread of new, more worrisome variants of the virus.
Experts suggest that the virus will finally begin to slow when about 70 to 90 percent of the public are immune to it. States are letting down their guard but they are also expanding access to the vaccine as the quantities increase.
On Monday, at least six states—Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma—made all adults eligible for vaccination. New York will follow suit on April 6.
Complacency and pandemic fatigue are a huge factor here. As will resistance to getting vaccinated.
“As we get a really, really low level of infection, you’re going to start seeing a pulling back on some of those restrictions,” Dr. Fauci warned.
We are moving in the right direction in terms of vaccinations, but we have to remain vigilant until we reach those critical numbers—otherwise we are going to see a huge rise in cases, more death and suffering, and more regulations.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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