By David M. Greenwald
A few weeks ago we were at about 14,000 new cases a day, now we’re at 31,000 this weekend—which is the highest I have seen in a while and, given that it’s a weekend, it’s a little alarming.
As a nation we are at 48 percent fully vaccinated, 58 percent with one dose. And among those over the age of 18, it rises to 59 percent and 68 percent with one dose.
There will be temptations to do something about the current surge—but maybe it’s time that we don’t.
The message at the end of the week from Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at a White House briefing: “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk. Communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” she said.
“Our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated,” Walensky said.
“The bottom line is we are dealing with a formidable opponent in the Delta variant,” Dr. Fauci said, adding people who are not vaccinated face “extreme vulnerability.”
“The good news is that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected against severe Covid, hospitalization and death,” Walensky said Friday, “and are even protected against the known variants, including the Delta variant.
“If you are not vaccinated,” she added, “you remain at risk.”
For a year I have argued that people’s freedom is putting other people at risk. But increasingly, people’s choice not to vaccinate is putting themselves at risk. And I am starting to be inclined to not want to protect people from themselves.
In a way a new surge and attention on cases might be helpful in getting those who are vaccine-hesitant but not fully opposed to get it done.
The administration took to the airwaves this weekend to hammer the message home.
“And for most people who get this Delta variant, it’s going to be the most serious virus that they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration during the Trump administration, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
The numbers are alarming. In LA County, new cases have increased by 300 percent over July 4 (just two weeks ago).
But most of the cases, and almost all of the serious cases, are with unvaccinated people.
“Most people will either get vaccinated, or have been previously infected, or they will get this Delta variant,” Gottleib said.
For those not fully vaccinated, “quality of mask is going to make a difference with a variant that spreads more aggressively, like Delta does, where people are more contagious and exude more virus,” he said.
I get to a point of ethical dilemma here. The world has changed since last year. We have a vaccine. Those who want the vaccine can get it. The vaccine greatly reduces the risk.
I will point out once again that this entire thing was made far worse by those people unwilling to take reasonable precautions—social distancing, masks and now vaccines.
For those worried about the economic impact, we have come out of this okay with the economy—but we have also prolonged the agony because we didn’t wait it out when we had a chance to really nip this in the bud, and we are still making the same mistake.
On the other hand, no person is an island.
My kids aren’t vaccinated. My daughter won’t be 12 until the end of the year. I am hopeful we can get clearance to vaccinate them at some point.
Otherwise, I am kind of done with this. If portions of America don’t want to vaccinate, Darwin can take care of that issue. I am being glib here and I apologize for that. But at this point, I don’t know what else to say.
If I were a US health official, I would simply go door to door and try to do three things: (1) catch the one-time vaccinated up to two doses, (2) catch people still willing to vaccinate, and (3) try to get more youth vaccinated.
Unfortunately every flu season many will not vaccinate. Many will get the flu. Some will die. While I agree there is a difference with COVID, we are now kind of operating in that framework. We have a vaccine. It is readily available. Let’s reduce the gap as much as we can—but at some point people, who make their bed, have to lie in it.
The one big problem is that as long as COVID is around we can get more and more virulent variants of the virus and, at some point, our vaccines may not be able to protect us.
Until then, if you don’t want to vaccinate, fine—just stay away from my kids.
—David M. Greenwald reporting