In today's NY Times, Bethany Mandel, a conservative Utah Republican, asserted that mask mandates are bullshit-- but pressures to get vaccinations aren't. That's not exactly an approved Republican message. This, from Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a GOP spokesmodel from western North Carolina who has vowed to prosecute Fauci when the GOP regains the House majority, is: "Now they’re talking about going door-to-door to bring vaccines to the people. Think of the mechanisms they would have to build to be able to actually execute that massive of a thing. Think about what those mechanisms could be used for. They could then go door-to-door to take your guns, to take your Bibles."
Mandel noted that "Statistically, almost the only people getting sick enough to be hospitalized at this point are those who have yet to choose vaccination. They have chosen to accept the risk that decision brings and yet, with the threat of more lockdowns, we would all have to bear the cost. We know what works in our battle against Covid: vaccines. We tried lockdowns, we tried mask mandates, but numbers only started to drop to endemic levels in some areas when vaccination became mainstream. Our society incentivized vaccination as a condition of a return to normalcy, and millions of Americans signed onto this social contract. We need increased vaccination rates in order to keep Covid at bay, and reneging on the agreement to return to normalcy with the ready availability and acceptance of vaccination would have the opposite effect... Instead of mandating more destructive lockdowns and masking, the government’s role moving forward should be incentivizing the only thing that has been proven to ensure a return to true normalcy: vaccines."
She never quite got to compulsory vaccinations in her thinking. Roger Cohen is The Times' bureau chief in Paris and he's watching the French move rapidly from persuasion to coercion in their response to this wave of the pandemic. No one likes giving up personal freedom but government's first duty is to protect society. The unvaccinated are a mortal threat across the world and French President Macron, wrote Cohen, "has led the way down a narrow path combining limited compulsion to get vaccinated with widespread coercion. His approach of ordering health workers to get vaccinated by Sept. 15, and telling the rest of the French population they will be denied access to most indoor public venues if unvaccinated or without a negative test by Aug. 1, has prompted other countries including Italy to follow suit, even as it has stirred pockets of deep resistance. 'You are creating a society of generalized control for months, maybe years,' Éric Coquerel, a lawmaker from the far-left France Unbowed party, said during a tumultuous 48-hour parliamentary debate on Mr. Macron’s measures that ended early Friday with a relatively narrow victory for the president."
Opposed by extremists on the right and a couple of lunatics on the left, Macron prevailed 117-86 in his bid "to strong-arm the French to get vaccinated by making their lives miserable if they do not... [W]here the United States has generally not gone beyond hospitals and major health systems requiring employees to get Covid-19 vaccines, major European economies including France and Italy are moving closer to making vaccines mandatory for everyone." Although there are plenty of protests, Macron's threats have brought about "an extraordinary surge in vaccinations, with 3.7 million booked in the first week after the president spoke, and a record of nearly 900,000 vaccinations in a single day on July 19. In this sense, his bold move has been a success... Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, followed the French example. He did not pull punches in announcing similar measures this week. 'The appeal to not getting vaccinated is an appeal to die,' he said. Resistance to vaccination could also kill others, he noted. But the extent of the European lurch toward mandatory measures has also prompted unease and questioning over loss of freedom." If Italian and French people want to go to restaurants they will be required to show their "health pass" (in effect, a vaccine passport). Businesses are required to enforce the rule or risk fines.
The United States has Florida, where no business or government entity can deny service to the non-vaccinated, and San Francisco, where all city workers are now required to be vaccinated, at opposite poles of the mandatory vaccine debate. Europe has London and Paris.
Since President Macron revealed his strategy two weeks ago, some vaccination centers have been ransacked. Protests have unfurled across France with the same kind of anti-elite, anti-big-business themes that characterized the Yellow Vest movement that began in 2018.
As in the United States, some French people see manipulation and lies in the vaccination campaign-- and indeed in the very way the coronavirus is portrayed as a mortal threat-- where most see good sense and social responsibility.
“There is continuity between the Yellow Vests and the anti-health-pass movement,” said Sophie Tissier, a member of both and former freelance technician for a TV network. “They contest the way an anti-democratic political system functions in France.”
She continued: “If you are in the political opposition here, you are accused of being a conspiracy theorist. I am absolutely not that. I am just asking questions. We are witnessing a dictatorial drift.”
On both sides of the debate, positions are hardening and the rhetoric growing wilder. In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the governing coalition’s nationalist League party, suggested that requiring vaccination would mean depriving “at least half the population of their right to life.”
He did not elaborate. Several opinion polls have shown that 70 percent of Italians favor the sort of restrictions France first imposed, and 40 million Italians, or two-thirds of the population, have already downloaded the green pass.
...Governments and health experts disagree, and it is clear that Mr. Macron will not relent. Mr. Véran, the health minister, said: “We have two choices. Succeed with the pass quickly, very quickly, or expose ourselves to the risk of another national lockdown.”
Who thinks Biden or Kamala has the guts to do any such thing? Maybe after we pass the million mark in deaths? Two million?
Greece's government was in an awkward position today. Reuters reported that Greek police used teargas and water cannon to disperse over 4,000 people who had gathered outside the parliament building in Athens to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations. About 45% of the country is fully vaccinated and most Greeks want to be... but, like everywhere in the world, conspiracy theories abound.
This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that Walter Ricciardi, a professor of public health and an adviser to Italy’s health minister, told an interviewer "We can’t force people to get vaccinated, but those who don’t do it will have fewer opportunities." The Journal report continued that "In most countries that have introduced restrictions on the unvaccinated, proof of recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test will open the same doors... In Greece and other countries, indoor dining is only open to the vaccinated, recovered or tested. Italy will follow suit on Aug. 6, adding the requirement for those taking part in indoor sports such as swimming, going to a gym and attending large events like concerts, whether indoors or outside. Trade fairs, museums and a host of other venues are on Italy’s off-limits list for the unvaccinated. In France, the government has set restrictions for museums and movie theaters, and plans in August to extend them to venues including restaurants, both indoors and outside. In England, beginning in September, proof of full vaccination will be required to get into nightclubs and the government has said the requirement could be added to other venues where large crowds gather. A Covid-19 pass has been added to the state-run National Health Service’s mobile-phone app, allowing users to demonstrate proof of vaccination."
And Russia has been working to coerce vaccine skeptics to get with the program for a couple of months. "Local authorities in Moscow and 44 of the country’s 85 regions made vaccination compulsory for service-sector employees. Failure to comply can lead to enforced unpaid leave, while restaurants and shops in the Russian capital could be forced to close for 90 days if they fail to have 60% of their staff inoculated with at least one dose by July 22. Almost a dozen of Russia’s most popular tourist destinations, including the northwest region of Karelia bordering Finland, are limiting stays at hotels and resorts to the vaccinated and those with a recent negative PCR test. While vaccination take-up has risen since shots became mandatory for some workers, just 23% of Russians have received at least one dose, well below the European average of 57%. Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, recently started requiring proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or a recent negative test to be able to attend indoor events with more than 100 participants... Israel, pending government approval, will soon block access to cultural and sports venues, gyms, restaurants and dining halls, conferences, tourist attractions and places of worship. The French bill currently moving through Parliament, would extend the pass requirement to large shopping malls, trade fairs and travel by airplane or long-distance train. 'Our decision is simple: to place restrictions on the unvaccinated, rather than on everyone,' French President Emmanuel Macron said when announcing the health pass."