Pandemic Mandates-- Or Perish
Just like the bad old days-- the U.S. is, once again, the only country in the world with daily new cases over 100,000. Thursday it was 124,496 new cases-- more than the combined number of cases in India and Brazil (#2 and #3). Friday the U.S. reported 130,706 new cases; the next 3 together-- Brazil, Indonesia and India-- reported a combined total of 120,391. The population of the U.S. is 333 million. The combined population of Brazil, Indonesia and India is 1.8 billion. But that isn't what's even the most strange about these numbers. what is the most strange-- and tragic-- is that the vaccine is widely available in the U.S., for free-- in fact, with incentives-- and it is hard to come by in Brazil, Indonesia and India.
And what's driving this growing case load in America, land o' the free? Mostly moron, suicidal Trump voters with miserable unfulfilled lives who view dying of COVID as a kind of perverse martyrdom.
Let me try something. The 10 states with the most reported new cases yesterday were Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana, Georgia (which doesn't keep track of county vaccination rates), North Carolina, New York, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri. I'll look up the 2 counties in each state with the least percentage of fully vaccinated adults and I'll check that against the percentage of 2020 Trump voters in each of them. Ready?
Baker Co.- 21% vaccinated-- Trump- 84.7%
Holmes Co- 21% vaccinated-- Trump- 89.1%
Dixie Co.- 23% vaccinated-- Trump- 82.8%
King Co.- 14% vaccinated-- Trump- 95.0%
Gaines Co.- 15% vaccinated-- Trump- 89.3%
Loving Co.- 17% vaccinated-- Trump- 90.9%
Lassen Co.- 27% vaccinated-- Trump- 74.5%
Tehama Co.- 29% vaccinated-- Trump- 66.6%
Del Norte Co.- 30% vaccinated-- Trump- 56.4%
Cameron Parish- 13% vaccinated-- Trump- 90.7%
St. Helena Parish- 20% vaccinated-- Trump- 44.1%
Beauregard Parish- 22% vaccinated-- Trump- 83.0%
Stanly Co.- 19% vaccinated-- Trump- 75.0%
Perquimans- 20% vaccinated-- Trump- 65.5%
Anson Co.- 22% vaccinated-- Trump- 47.5%
Allegany Co.- 34% vaccinated-- Trump- 68.2%
Wyoming Co.- 42% vaccinated-- Trump- 68.7%
Lewis Co.- 42% vaccinated-- Trump- 71.6%
Moore Co.- 17% vaccinated-- Trump- 81.6%
Grundy Co.- 19% vaccinated-- Trump- 82.0%
Macon Co.- 22% vaccinated-- Trump- 85.3%
Saluda Co.- 23% vaccinated-- Trump- 67.0%
Cherokee Co.- 24% vaccinated-- Trump- 71.4%
Jasper Co.- 26% vaccinated-- Trump- 49.2%
Douglas Co.- 17% vaccinated-- Trump- 83.2%
Reynolds Co- 17% vaccinated-- Trump- 82.0%
Newton Co.- 18% vaccinated-- Trump- 76.6%
That leaves us with 9 because of Georgia's non-reporting status, so I'm adding Wisconsin, even though the state isn't in the top 10 of new cases (#18 yesterday), but you'll see why I picked Wisconsin in a moment.
Taylor Co.- 28% vaccinated-- Trump- 71.6%
Clark Co.- 29% vaccinated-- Trump- 67.1%
Rusk Co.- 32% vaccinated-- Trump- 66.7%
And here's why I decided to include Wisconsin-- a piece I saw in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last night-- Wisconsin Senate President Chris Kapenga urges health care workers opposed to vaccine mandates to 'stand up,' take action. Kapenga, a crackpot far right Republican Trumpist, "is calling on health care workers opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates to take action against them, alarming," wrote Molly Beck, "some health care officials navigating a surge of new infections. [He] said health care executives requiring employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 are 'bowing to the woke culture being pushed by the left. I want to encourage the groups that are forming to stick to your principles and don’t give in! Based on what I am seeing, it will be impossible for the hospital systems to function without you... If you stand up for your protection now, others who are considering implementing the vaccination mandate will back off, and you will once again be leading in the protection of our health.'"
In response, Wisconsin Medical Society board chairman Jerry Halverson urged those with concerns about COVID-19 vaccines to reach out to their doctors instead.
“Elected leaders can play an important role fighting against this pandemic. Vaccinations for deadly and debilitating diseases like polio, measles and now COVID-19 are medical miracles that have vastly improved our country’s health. Urging people to avoid vaccinations works against what we all want: beating COVID-19, saving lives and getting our kids back into school," he said.
"Your health is more important than politics."
...Republican lawmakers like Kapenga have long opposed such requirements and have largely refrained from promoting the idea of getting vaccinated to prevent more deaths and serious health complications.
Gov. Tony Evers' spokeswoman said Kapenga's statement was "absolutely irresponsible."
"Wisconsin activated a field hospital last fall because our hospitals and healthcare infrastructure were overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. This is dangerous and reckless rhetoric at a time when our state is seeing alarming case trends," spokeswoman Britt Cudaback said.
Kapenga represents most of central Waukesha county (SD-33). Waukesha County has experienced an average of 117 cases per day a ghastly 301% increase from the average two weeks ago. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 8 residents have been infected, a total of 50,925 reported cases. Right now, Waukesha County is at a very high risk for unvaccinated people. Kapenga should be running around Delafield knocking on doors and pleading with his constituents to get vaccinated, instead of campaigning for more deaths in his state. It was because of craven partisans like Kapenga that Dr. Fauci told the USA Today editorial board that once the FDA grants full approval to the vaccines, businesses and schools will immediately start mandating vaccines on a major scale. Although Fauci doesn't foresee more lockdowns, he told the editorial board that "Organizations, enterprises, universities, colleges... can say, 'If you want to come to this college or this university, you've got to get vaccinated. If you want to work in this plant, you have to get vaccinated. If you want to work in this enterprise, you've got to get vaccinated. If you want to work in this hospital, you've got to get vaccinated.'"
While he's attacked online and in conservative media every day, Fauci said he worries less about himself than for the nation as a whole.
"This is a dystopian world we're living in," he said. The public is awash in lies and misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines, "they are being misled."
With COVID-19 cases rising among the unvaccinated as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, Fauci hopes people's "better angels" will prevail over the sea of lies on social media.
Americans, he hopes, will say, "I'm not going to take any of this. I'm seeing everybody around me get sick and dying. Let me just go ahead and get vaccinated.'"
The delta variant has thrown the danger of COVID-19 to young children into sharp relief. In Tennessee, the Department of Health projects the state's children's hospitals are on pace to be completely full by the end of next week.
The state's health commissioner, Dr. Lisa Piercey, said the delta variant is rapidly spreading among children, who are quickly showing symptoms after possible exposure, possibly amounting to a much faster incubation time than previous versions of the virus.
Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, so the adults around them must be their protection, Fauci said.
At schools, everyone needs to be vaccinated, he said, teachers, assistants, janitors, "anybody who is anywhere near a child in what should be a protected environment of a school."
Because in the current political environment that won't happen, Fauci said masks are the next best thing. Schools are crucial for children's mental health and intellectual, physical and social development, so it's important they stay open.
"I would rather have a child be a little bit uncomfortable with a mask on and be healthy than a comfortable child without a mask in an ICU," he said. "It just doesn't make any sense to me why you would want to not protect the children."
..."You will get a smoldering level of infection that will just go right into the fall, get confused with influenza in the winter and then come back again in the spring," he said.
The unvaccinated will continue to get sick and some will die. The young and healthy are statistically not likely to become seriously ill if infected, but they don't live in a vacuum, he said. The more people who are infected, the more chance the virus has to mutate into an even more dangerous variant.
"All of the sudden, your decision not to get vaccinated goes beyond your own vacuum and influences society," he said.
That holds true for the world as well-- unless the virus is stopped everywhere, it will continue to mutate and could come back in a form that can evade current vaccines.
That's different from many vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, which doesn't mutate. And it's why getting vaccines to the rest of the world is critical.
"If we're protected against measles here and there are a million cases of measles in Afghanistan or in India or in Uganda or in Kenya and somebody comes over here, it almost doesn't matter. But if we're protected against one group of (COVID-19) variants and a bizarre variant emerges somewhere in a low- or middle-income country, then we're vulnerable," he said.
Fauci ended by emphasizing that while the COVID-19 vaccines are not perfect, they do one thing extraordinarily well-- keep people who get COVID-19 from becoming severely ill or dying.
"The reason to get vaccinated is not so that you can go around without wearing a mask," he said. The reason is "because we don't want you to wind up in the ICU. And I can guarantee you 99% that if you get vaccinated, you are not going to wind up in the ICU."
Some, like Donald McNeil, are taking a much harder line than Fauci. "The Delta variant," he wrote earlier this week, "is making clear what the Administration should have done back in January: mandate vaccines, mandate passports and crack down on the denialists. Now time is running short. Why is it taking the Delta variant to get the Biden administration to do what it should have done in January? Why is this administration so hesitant about saving American lives? And the American economy?"
The alternatives to rapid vaccination are grim.
Soon, as schools open, we will almost undoubtedly have lots of sick kids. Under-12s are not vaccinated against Covid and only about 40 percent of teens are... Although children don’t normally get severe Covid disease, a surge of pneumonia hospitalizations caused by a combination of Covid plus respiratory viruses plus secondary bacterial infections could be quite scary. For kids, it may feel like a “multidemic.”
Then, by winter, if the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines start wearing off, we could see a new surge in nursing home deaths. Starting booster shots now and demanding that all nursing home employees and visitors be vaccinated could prevent that.
We are running out of time. Once again, we’re being lulled by a not-so-bad-except-in-the-South summer. With the two-shots-plus-two-weeks regimens, it takes at least six weeks for immunity to kick in.
To protect children from Covid, the Biden administration could press the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the pediatric testing and make an emergency authorization decision based on markers of immunity. The biggest fear we had about coronavirus vaccines a year ago-- that they might increase the likelihood of severe disease-- never materialized.
...States and cities run by governors and mayors who read hospital reports are issuing mandates. In states whose governors resist, like Florida and Texas, the hospitals are filling up-- again. When will they learn? How many voters have to die for them to catch on?
All of which raises an obvious question: Why in the world do we not yet have federal vaccine passports?
...Biden’s advisors failed to develop a passport plan while he was running for President. His administration specifically rejected passports in April.
America is now paying the price for that mistake.
Now that most employers and retailers recognize the danger, we could be easily blocking the unvaccinated at the doorways to stores, restaurants, bars, theaters, airplanes, buses, subways, hotels, schools and other venues just as easily as Walmart and Target were eventually able to compel their customers to don masks. The vast majority of Americans have cellphones that could display something like New York’s Excelsior passport.
Yes, there will be statehouse demonstrations. And screaming matches and, sadly, even some shootings. Some people don’t like to wear masks or seatbelts; some don’t like gun background checks or paying taxes. But this is why we have store security guards, the police and the highway patrol, the I.R.S., A.T.F. and F.B.I.-- and why every state passed quarantine laws back in the 19th century. Sometimes the unwilling must be given a stark choice: whether you are suffering from a sense of murderous rage or from a communicable disease, you can either abide by the law meant to protect your fellow citizens from you-- or you can stay in your house. If you do come out and endanger others, you go to jail.
Instead, we’re on the honor system.
Huh? Do we just hand a license to everyone who says: “Yes, I can drive”? Do we admit everyone who walks up to the border and announces, “I am American citizen”? Do we say “Oh, no, we never withhold taxes from paychecks-- we’ll trust you to pay it in full next April”?
It’s also time to drop “religious exemptions.” No major religion-- not one, from Confucianism to Catholicism-- opposes vaccination. This issue has been debated by the world’s top religious authorities ever since Edward Jenner controversially deliberately infected a boy with cowpox in 1796. Ultimately all faiths strongly endorsed vaccination because it saves lives, an ideal embraced by all faiths.
And, even if a truly anti-vaccine sect did exist, religious freedom is not absolute, despite what the First Amendment says. Remember, many of the world’s oldest religions once practiced human sacrifice. (Not just the Aztecs and Carthaginians. The Abrahamic religions-- Judaism, Christianity and Islam-- are founded on God’s covenant with Abraham, whose faith God tested by asking him to sacrifice his son.) We do not permit human sacrifice on religious grounds. We don’t permit bigamy either-- we outlawed it in 1862, even though polygamy is common in the Old Testament and Mormonism permitted it. Religions have legal limits, even under the Bill of Rights.
And why are we leaving the job of policing lies about vaccines up to Mark Zuckerberg? What qualifies the staff of Facebook to do that, and what can they do beyond swatting flies? Where is the Justice Department?
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are not at fault for the lies any more than papyrus, parchment and radio waves were in earlier centuries. They’re the mediums. If you sue a newspaper for libel, you don’t sue the maker of its printing press; you sue the author.
Lies have authors. Yes, some vaccine liars are Russian trolls and beyond the Justice Department’s reach. But the most prominent authors are right here.
Many writers, including Michael Fitzpatrick, author of Defeating Autism, a Damaging Delusion and Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, have shown that the anti-vaccine movement is not merely a self-help group of concerned mothers. It is a business pushed by millionaires: the sellers of vitamin and herbal supplements, the directors of unregulated clinics prescribing chelation drugs, detoxifying purges and hyperbaric chambers, the seekers of fame and tax-deductible donations.
The chief domestic purveyors have been dubbed the “Disinformation Dozen.” Their tactics have been described in detail.
In normal times, the harm they do is limited. The anti-vaccine movement helped bring measles back to America, and since 2010 about 3,000 cases have occurred, mostly in New York and California. But no children died in those outbreaks, though dozens were hospitalized. The movement has also helped weaken our national defense against whooping cough, which a handful of babies die of every year.
But now we are at war with a virus. More than 600,000 Americans have died. That’s 200,000 more than died in World War II. We need to treat deliberate disinformation for what it is: a betrayal of the American public.
In the 1930’s, in the name of free speech, this country tolerated the German-American Bund and the Silver Legion, even as they spread the lies that Hitler was America’s friend, that Naziism would save the world from communism, that F.D.R. was controlled by Jews and that George Washington was our “First Fascist.”
But when Americans actually began dying in the fight against Hitler, the nation’s patience ended. The leaders were investigated, their financial frauds exposed. The Legion’s founder was imprisoned, the Bund’s founder was deported to Germany. Newspapers didn’t do that, Facebook can’t do that. Only governments can do that.
President Trump never hesitated to use the full power of his office to punish his enemies, pardon his cronies, and re-assure his own re-election. Happily, he also spent $11 billion to make some of the most amazing vaccines the world has ever seen (for which he deserves credit even if he appears oddly ashamed of them.)
President Biden is now in charge of the same institutions. How about using those awesome powers for a good cause this time: protecting us?
Watch this David Pakman clip and think about what seditionist Marjorie Traitor Greene was telling these Alabama wing-nuts, sponsored by the Alabama Federation of Republican Women last week. I kind of feel badly for Biden when I remember he's facing this. I don't see a solution to this exception a reverse secessionist movement: kick them the hell out of the country this time. And start with the useless, toxic region where Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee meet.