By David M. Greenwald
Woodland, CA – Here we go again. Just when it looked like we had this COVID thing licked finally, it comes back and bites us in our collective unvaccinated hindparts. Remember when the daily number was averaging 14,000 cases a day? Yesterday it was over 60,000.
That’s still a far cry from what it was in January—200,000 new cases a day—but the trend is alarming. And the fact that most of this is preventable, even more so.
So here we are, 45 days after the state ended restrictions, back again.
The county release notes, “Since the statewide transition to Beyond to Blueprint on June 15, Yolo County’s COVID-19 case rate has risen eight-fold from 1.2 to 10.0 per 100,000 residents and has been followed by increases in COVID-19-positive patients in hospitals. Rising case rates, testing positivity, and hospitalizations are largely due to the predominance of the highly infectious Delta variant, which is over twice as contagious and may double the risk of hospitalization compared to the original virus.”
“With case rates as high as they are and rising, everybody needs to add an additional layer of protection in the form of a mask when they are indoors,” said Yolo County Public Health Officer, Dr. Aimee Sisson. “Vaccines are still the best protection there is against ending up in the hospital or dying from COVID-19, and I continue to strongly recommend that everybody who is eligible get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe, effective, and free. But the vaccine alone may not be enough to prevent mild illness or infection, and that is why everybody will now be required to wear a mask indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Putting on a mask is a simple act that will help keep business open and protect residents from the highly contagious Delta variant.”
Let me repeat: “Vaccines remain the most effective protection against severe disease from COVID-19. Unvaccinated persons are 6 and a half times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 than fully vaccinated persons, and nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Yolo hospitals are unvaccinated.”
They don’t want to say it—so I will. This is on unvaccinated people. The same people that don’t like masks. The same people that protest in front of capitals. The same people who have not heeded public health warnings.
Still, as LA Times opinion writer Paul Thornton put it this past week, “Don’t yell at the unvaccinated.”
He writes: “But this is where things are less than ideal, and it may be why calling the willfully unvaccinated ‘part of the problem’ is, well, part of the problem.”
He adds, “From my vantage point as the L.A. Times’ letters editor, what sets this surge apart (besides the availability of vaccines) is the overriding emotion in response to it: anger. Past surges saw plenty of that too, over anti-maskers and restrictions that seemed arbitrary, but people were mostly worried and grief-stricken. This time, the feeling is that instead of the pandemic unleashing horror on us, a portion of the population has ushered in the preventable death and illness.”
Thornton calls for playing nice, but you know what as I wrote last week—I am so over this. And not in the way people interpreted the comment last week.
Let me tell you the story of a certain city councilmember who sits on the council of one of the more conservative communities. An avid Trumper, retired law enforcement, wants to run for congress, and no, he didn’t get vaccinated.
I’m not going to name him—but a lot of you can figure this out.
Shockingly, he got COVID. And no—again—he didn’t get vaccinated.
Good news is that he got a relatively mild case. Bad news—you know if he was able to contract it, he was exposed to enough people before and after that he may well have spread it to others. And this is exactly the problem.
Moreover, he makes no apologies for it.
His attitude: “I don’t think it’s irresponsible. I think that’s my decision.”
Except that his decision is part of the problem that is causing another surge, which could impact people’s health and their livelihood.
He writes, falsely, “You do understand that this is still an experimental drug right?”
He added, “I wholeheartedly support anybody that wants to get the vaccine and I support those that do not. It’s a personal decision. And if you got the vaccine and I didn’t and I caught the virus then you shouldn’t need to worry, correct?”
He continued, “I know this has affected your family in the most tragic way but on my side of the family, many have caught the virus and are just fine. And while it is not the flu, I similarly do not get the flu vaccine and we definitely know that many people pass around the flu and people die from it.”
This is exactly the problem. A mixture of false information, spin and bad reasoning. And here we are again.
There are a lot of problems with this. I will focus quickly on four.
First, the science does not show us that kids are not affected. Some kids have gotten seriously ill and even died. That is rare. But it does happen and kids under 12 are completely unprotected right now.
Second, the vaccines are not experimental. They went through full protocols. They removed some bureaucratic barriers to quick approval, but it was fully tested when it was released to the public. He is using “experimental” improperly here.
But we also know that vaccines are not 100 percent in either preventing illness or spread of the disease, especially when half the population is unvaccinated.
Third, a real danger is as long as the illness is still active, it is mutating and could come around to pose a broader risk to vaccinated people.
Finally, surging cases tax the system. Again, it’s good that you were not hospitalized, but those hospitalization rates are surging as well. And that means the system is that people’s choices put other people at risk, even if it is not directly from COVID.
The people refusing to get vaccinated are the same people who have prolonged this pandemic to begin with. As we have seen, COVID only needs a crack. And yes, I fully believe that California should not have dropped the regulations in June. We are where we are, it’s not great.
Until people are vaccinated, I suspect this is going to remain a problem. Ironically, the latest surge has helped increase the vaccination rate again. If we could only get the college age population and the youth to vaccinate at this point, along with the persuadable adult population, maybe we can slow this yet again. Sadly, here we go again. Hopefully this time won’t be as bad as January.