Time to Move Forward
Living with COVID is our new normal
On January 21, we’ll mark the second anniversary of the first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States. Since then, nearly 67 million Americans have tested positive for COVID, and the CDC estimates more than 850,000 Americans have died. As I write this, I know some will question the validity of those numbers arguing people died for other reasons (who could have guessed comorbidities would get so much play on social media?) We know that only heart disease and cancer are deadlier than COVID right now.
As America contends with the Omicron variant, experts project another 50,000 to 300,000 deaths before this wave subsides in March. This variant, while seemingly milder, is also more transmissible, meaning a more widespread outbreak than the original or the Delta variant. Looking ahead, there is the possibility, even the probability, of other variants. Whether you believe in vaccines or natural immunity, you’re not immune to this variant or future ones. In a recent article for the Journal of American Medical Association, Drs. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Michael Osterholm, and Celine R. Gounder, who served on the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board said,
The goal for the “new normal” with COVID-19 does not include eradication or elimination, eg, the “zero COVID” strategy. Neither COVID-19 vaccination nor infection appear to confer lifelong immunity. Current vaccines do not offer sterilizing immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Infectious diseases cannot be eradicated when there is limited long-term immunity following infection or vaccination or nonhuman reservoirs of infection. The majority of SARS-CoV-2 infections are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and the SARS-CoV-2 incubation period is short, preventing the use of targeted strategies like “ring vaccination.” Even “fully” vaccinated individuals are at risk for breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection. Consequently, a “new normal with COVID” in January 2022 is not living without COVID-19.
This message reinforces what many of us believe, that COVID is here to stay, at least for a while longer. We can universally accept certain facts that make for better common ground on moving ahead: 1. We’re going to wrangle with COVID in the near term, 2. Vaccines alone won’t solve the problem, 3. Public opinion is pretty fixed and should be a calculus on how to proceed, 4. It’s time to stop reacting and start responding. We can hope for something different, but hope is not a strategy.
In my time in politics, I developed a crisis management philosophy, “In the midst of a crisis, solve the crisis.” This principle is built on the security principles: prevention, detection, and mitigation. Prevention, or in this case, vaccines, masks, and other restrictions, were only ever going to do so much to stop the spread. Detection improved testing and tracking capabilities are also necessary to determine where and when outbreaks occur and put resources. Mitigation, effective treatments to minimize loss of life and further harm are also needed. We need to mobilize all three.
Back in the Great COVID lockdown of March 2020, I offered this:
Here we are in January 2022, and we’ve just opened the portal to send testing kits to homes in America. Test availability lags far behind Europe where more at-home tests have been approved. This country mobilized faster for World War II. We can do better, but we have to put together a far broader and less restrictive plan than vaccines and masks.
Spiking the Spike Ball
Laura Ingraham has a segment called, Positively Boosted, where she celebrates the vaccinated getting COVID:
In case you’re wondering, anti-vaxxers get roasted when they die:
The name of this newsletter is taken from a Nietzsche quote that says, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” This schadenfreude is a trend worth denouncing regardless of your personally held beliefs on vaccines and other safety measures. Be an advocate, be silent; it’s your choice, but don’t be a jackass. No movement has ever been served well by it.
Everyone Loves a COVID Poll
In a recent Heartland Institute/Rasmussen poll, the country is evenly divided (48/48) on the vaccine mandate proposed by President Biden. This poll was before the Supreme Court struck down the blanket workforce mandate last week. The court ruled that simply working for a large company was not a basis for mandating a vaccination. The court upheld a vaccine mandate for health care workers in a separate opinion, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh siding with the court’s more liberal justices. Cue Tucker Carlson:
Dr. Anthony Fauci proves to be as divisive, with 45 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving of his handling of COVID. The partisan divide is not surprisingly sharp, with 78 percent of Democrats viewing him favorably, while 21 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of independents viewing him favorably.
Some of the more interesting results:
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters would oppose a proposal for federal or state governments to fine Americans who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, 55% of Democratic voters would support such a proposal, compared to just 19% of Republicans and 25% of unaffiliated voters.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a proposal is opposed by 61% of all likely voters, including 79% of Republicans and 71% of unaffiliated voters.
Nearly half (48%) of Democratic voters think federal and state governments should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or online or digital publications. Only 27% of all voters – including just 14% of Republicans and 18% of unaffiliated voters – favor the criminal punishment of vaccine critics.
Forty-five percent (45%) of Democrats would favor governments requiring citizens to temporarily live in designated facilities or locations if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a policy would be opposed by a strong majority (71%) of all voters, with 78% of Republicans and 64% of unaffiliated voters saying they would Strongly Oppose putting the unvaccinated in “designated facilities.”
While about two-thirds (66%) of likely voters would be against governments using digital devices to track unvaccinated people to ensure they are quarantined or socially distancing from others, 47% of Democrats favor a government tracking program for those who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Rundown (COVID edition)
On the right, Fauci Must Go.
On the left, Fire Jeff Zients.
CDC Director acknowledges messaging and guidance aren’t great.
Australia’s new direction on COVID, let it rip.
We need to hear Biden’s Year 2 strategy on COVID.
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