September 25, 2021

Not Good at All

By Stephen Tuttle | Aug. 14, 2021

This is not good at all. With the COVID-19 Delta variant surging, too many are still stuck in a world of make-believe, unwilling to acknowledge science or protect themselves and the rest of us.

About 80 percent of all new covid cases are of the delta variant, a mutated and more transmissible version of an already very unpleasant virus. It enjoys infecting younger people almost as much as the original enjoyed infecting older people.

It is now a self-inflicted wound for the half of the country age 12 and older that has still not been vaccinated — this despite the fact that we know, at least those of us who believe in science, the vaccine is both safe and effective. We know the incidents of vaccine side-effects are minimal and less than .002 percent of more than 345 million vaccines administered have resulted in serious contraindications. Breakthrough cases, those involving people already fully vaccinated, rarely require hospitalization and are almost never fatal. 

So, we know the vaccines are effective and safe and we know the delta variant is more contagious and not safe at all. Our covid death toll now exceeds 617,000 and more and more young people are becoming seriously ill. Fully 15 percent of new, covid-related hospitalizations are now children. 

Hospitals in Florida, Louisiana, and in some areas of Texas, where record numbers of covid hospitalizations are occurring, have once again run out of ICU rooms. Some in Florida are experiencing shortages of equipment like ventilators. The average age of those hospitalized and those who die keeps getting younger. Yet, we still can't seem to understand there is a way to avoid this death and destruction and it's free. 

Thanks to misinformation, politicians ignoring the facts and prohibiting potentially life-saving mask mandates, and plain ignorance, many states still have abysmal vaccination rates. Wyoming, Idaho, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia have less than 40 percent of their residents who have received even one shot. Not surprisingly, all are now experiencing some form of the current surge.    

Michigan is doing a little better. Some 53 percent have received at least one dose and a bit more than 49 percent have received both. Grand Traverse County, and good for us, is better still with nearly 66 percent of residents 12 and over fully vaccinated. 

What is especially surprising is some of the groups being vaccine-resistant.

According to the Military Times, about 70 percent of active military have received at least one dose of the vaccine. What happened to the other 30 percent and when did it happen that those in the military got to decide for themselves? New recruits are required to take a flood of vaccines, regardless of past vaccine history, and, in some cases, annual booster shots. They might be required to receive additional vaccine protection for more exotic diseases, depending on where they're deployed. So why the exception for COVID?

Thankfully, 96 percent of practicing physicians are fully vaccinated according to the American Medical Association (AMA). Regrettably, fully 30 percent of nurses and others involved in direct patient care have not been vaccinated at all. This despite potentially dire consequences; a survey by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News found COVID had already killed more than 3,600 healthcare workers. 

Even worse, barely half of first responders are fully vaccinated, and a whopping 30 percent say they've no plans to get the shots.

The real problem, as we all should know by now, is these vaccine-refusers are not endangering just themselves. With more than a third of cases asymptomatic — since so little testing is now being conducted it's hard to determine exact figures — those in close contact with the public as a function of their jobs can be spreading the bug without even knowing it.

It may be that the government cannot force people to be vaccinated. But your employer likely has the legal power to do so. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and at least a couple of levels of courts have already given the green light to employer mandates unless the person can prove they are allergic to something in the vaccine or, in incredibly rare cases, can raise a legitimate religious objection.

At least a dozen huge companies have already announced they will require employee vaccination. Some of those who refuse will be given the opportunity to seek employment elsewhere.

Those screaming about freedom and tyranny should be reminded of the old bromide; the freedom to swing your arm stops at the end of someone else's nose. Likewise, your freedom to remain unvaccinated stops at the entry to someone else's lungs.

The longer people wait, the more they listen to the nonsense online, the worse this is going to get and the more chance an already nasty bug will morph into something truly frightening. That won't be good at all.  


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