We need to pay attention. Each day, the New York Times tracks the most up-to-date statistics regarding the coronavirus both in the US and around the world. On July 7, the lead sentence reflected the cautious optimism generally felt in the US, at least across the Northeast: “About 250 deaths are being reported each day, the fewest since March 2020. Case numbers remain near their lowest levels since testing became widely available, but they have started to trend slowly upward.”

But it is the final phrase, “[Case numbers] have started to trend slowly upward,” that should give us pause as we continue to endure eighteen months of this pandemic. In New York City, once the worldwide epicenter of the virus, cases have similarly begun to tick upwards fueled by the Delta variant. Joseph Goldstein writes that the “numbers are still low, but the increase [in July] has been swift, surprising some epidemiologists and public health officials who had not expected to see cases jump so quickly after remaining level throughout June.” Goldstein goes on to quote Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, “Alarming is not the right word. I would say concerning.”

The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated. Politicization of receiving a Covid vaccination has amplified vaccine skepticism. Levels of transmission from the Delta variant exacerbate the concern and provide further evidence that until we are all free from coronavirus (including those beyond our national borders), we are all at risk. For my family, this has become far more than an esoteric argument. My eight-year-old grand nephew tested positive for Covid just yesterday. He seems to be doing fine but if this virus has taught us anything, it is that it is unpredictable. And, of course, the long-term effects of the virus are still unknown. I covet your thoughts and prayers for his complete recovery.

While statistics indicate that it may not be necessary to become alarmed, neither is it beneficial to be lulled into believing that the crisis has passed or that another global pandemic does not lie lurking in our future. We are all exhausted from the pandemic’s impact, especially in communities of color and for individuals and families with special needs. The disruption to our day-to-day lives has been pervasive: from added responsibilities on parents (mostly moms) to educate children who have been shut out from in-person learning; to the emotional toll caused by isolation from family members, friends and work colleagues; to economic hardships for small businesses; to results of pandemic languishing that prompt feelings of lethargy—not quite in crisis, but certainly not flourishing—that afflict so many. We have been warned. We cannot let this happen again.

We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency. Rather we must be attentive to the ever-shifting signs around us and remain vigilant in both our individual behavior and in the public policies we support so that effects of future health crises can be dealt with directly and mitigated before they wreak havoc on an ill-prepared public.

4 thoughts on “Lulled Again?

  1. Ohio’s Governor just signed into law a Republic-led effort to bar mandatory non-FDA approved COVID-19 vaccinations for K-12 schools and public colleges. It is important to note that ALL current pandemic-related vaccines in the U.S. are designated “emergency use only” and have yet to receive FDA authorization.

    Ohio stopped posting COVID-19 county advisories in late May, even as the densely-populated county in which I reside was still at RED (high) alert. The county had been on high alert throughout the duration of the advisories.

    Ohio’s adult, full-shots vaccination rate has held steady at 47 to 48 percent for two weeks. It will take quite an effort to encourage Ohio’s rural population — diehard Trump followers — to do the right thing and take the vaccination. Herd immunity in the state remains a pipe dream.

    A recently-released study on the efficacy of vaccine enticement programs — a few months back Ohio garnered national attention for rolling out a five-week vaccine-related, million-dollar lottery — has show such efforts to have little impact on overall vaccination numbers.

    While about 30 percent of grocery and mass-retail employees in my area continue to wear mask on their own, they are no longer mandated to do so. Fewer than 20 percent of shoppers are masked, nor are masks seen dangling somewhere on these persons.

    The state of Tennessee recently forbid adolescents from seeking and receiving vaccinations on their own.

    Florida…, well, it’s Florida so there’s little need to for me to outline that state’s inane Republican-fueled vaccination hesitancy.

    The only proven way to encourage those hesitant to adopt vaccinations is to have a medical doctor personally recommend one during a routine visit.

    As we move through summer toward a fully-open return-to-school in late August, let us teach our young, non-vaccinated children a new pledge, one that notes “allegiance to the “Divided States of America.”

  2. To my fellow American, Mr. Randy Varcho

    I agree with what you said about our abilities as American’s to always take collective actions that support our country. But what is truly wrong is when my fellow American uses insult to negotiate their inability to dialogue with others.

    I, on the other hand, see that you are an accomplished writer and do command the English Language very well. And I do not understand the reasoning to insult others if they disagreed with your views. Taking the vaccine or not has nothing to do with Trump or Republicans; I urge you to check your facts.

    Your remark
    “It will take quite an effort to encourage Ohio’s rural population — diehard Trump followers — to do the right thing and take the vaccination, …etc.”
    is frivolous and did not help.

    Just in case you forgot, we are in the U.S. of A. and this beautiful-great country grants all of us regardless of what we think constitutional freedoms.

    Just to educate you, I am a hardcore democrat who respects other and strongly believes in constitutional rights over self-professed or politics serving rights; and majority of my friends and their families, community, township, county, and most of the state are registered democrats and there is a huge number of us are declining to take an unapproved “NOT FULLY APPROVED” questionable vaccines for all kinds of reasons.

    So, please PUT your wonderful writing skills to a good use; please USE your words to de-confuse and encourage, to better explain the situation and find solutions, not alienate. Your fellow Americans deserve your respect.

    Thank you,

    Karl

    1. Thank you, Karl, for taking the time to read my post. It is much appreciated.

      The links below will take the reader to pieces published by highly-reputable, mainstream sources. Each was written within the hours before and after I submitted the comments above. The conclusions evident in the pieces are not new; rather do they represent established facts.

      https://www.economist.com/united-states/2021/07/17/the-republican-anti-vax-delusion

      https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/15/politics/tennessee-republican-vaccine-controversy/index.html

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/12/gop-death-cult-attitude-toward-coronavirus-vaccines-isnt-just-lethal-its-stupid/

      https://www.vox.com/2021/7/6/22554198/political-polarization-vaccine-covid-19-coronavirus

      https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/the-anti-vaxx-party-is-taking-shape.html

      Please note the penultimate line in my post wherein I note, political rhetoric aside, that the only study-proven method to encourage vaccine-hesitant individuals to take a shot comes by way of conversation with an accredited health provider, preferably a general practitioner.

  3. First off, healing energy and prayers for your great-nephew’s full recovery..

    When I read your blog-post tonight, I confess I couldn’t help but feel again what I’ve been noticing, sensing with growing alarm for 25? 30? years i.e. an empowering (pre-Trump) of that largest blue collar segment of society, the “working man”, though not always in a good way. Unknowingly, I fear WE have created this monster and it has – in turn – given rise to much of what we’re now dealing with in society. (There is a book to be written here, but by someone much smarter than I am.)

    It seems that folks who once felt marginalized, “less-than” (and, yes, humbled by their lack of a formal education) now gravitate, flock to charismatic others with even less humility and often no more formal education than their audience. Their leaders need only a local shoppers’ paper, a Facebook page, a fringe website or an AM radio presence to lend them credibility in their audience’s eyes.. I fear that this audience comprises the largest portion of the “un-vaccinated”. Their leaders stoke their fears and, at the same time, praise their impressionable followers for questioning (doubting) proven science and facts. They are given a false sense of empowerment, rewarded for not giving-in, not caving to “dangerous”, manipulative Liberal “propaganda”.. etc, etc.

    To all these people, I say, simply, the same thing Mr. Varcho said to Mr. Hardt.. Make an appointment, go to a doctor you trust and ask the doctor whether he or she believes the vaccine is safe.

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