Saturday, October 23, 2021

COVID-19 Revealed Loss of National Resolve

I believe every police officer, firefighter, nurse, medical staffer, teacher and any other person has the right to reject vaccination for COVID-19. It is their private, personal right (however ill-advised).


But I more fervently believe governments and private enterprises have the right to require vaccinations for all employees who interface with the public or fellow workers.


Inhibiting the spread of a communicable disease is a bulwark of social behavior, particularly when vaccinations have proven to be effective and safe. It is an obligation incumbent upon all levels of government and even private enterprise to enforce that trumps personal rights. 


Rather than safeguarding the people they have sworn to protect and serve, anti-vaxx first responders are endangering the public, first by not getting vaccinated and then, if they walk off the job, making the rest of us more vulnerable to criminal and life-threatening activities.


Medical professionals, ostensibly, have chosen their vocation because they want to save lives, heal the sick or infirm, and “do no harm.” Exposing patients and their families is not consistent with that ethos. 


My sister reposted the following applicable Facebook note from Jeff Tiedrich: “holy f’ing s’t, vaccine mandates are causing teachers who don’t believe in science to quit, nurses who don’t believe in medicine to quit, and cops who don’t believe in public safety to quit. I’m failing to see the downside to this.”


Surely there are many with deeply felt beliefs who disdain any type of vaccine. About 10% of families do not vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella. That number, however, is dwarfed by the percentage of people refusing to be COVID-19 vaccinated. 


It is hard to dismiss the belief that for many anti-vaxxers their stance has a more political than scientific or religious foundation. There are those who would refuse vaccines even if they are mandated. Not because they have a medical reason. Just because. Be it a conspiracy theory. Or an erroneous belief their freedom is being compromised. 


For the vaxx-resisters, might the solution be relocation to a COVID enterprise zone? Much like the internment camps set up for Japanese Americans during World War II, these camps could become home and workplace for refuseniks.


I’m just spitballing, of course, but if government can order mandatory evacuations to protect residents from encroaching fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters, why can’t mandatory vaccinations and mask orders be issued? Vaccinations and masks save not only the lives of those who get the shots and cover up, they also help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.


COVID-19 has exposed us to more than just an insidious germ that can kill. It has revealed a failure of national resolve, an absence of shared purpose. Containing and eliminating COVID-19 should have been a national quest, much like the eradication of polio was. Instead, it has devolved into partisan rancor and deception. 


Abetted by Internet falsehoods, critics have undermined the legitimacy of vaccines. Respect for authority has been diminished. Even the pope had his advocacy of vaccines challenged by a prominent member of his flock.  


The message from the archbishop of the U.S. military that Catholic service personnel could claim a religious exemption from the Pentagon’s vaccination mandate is not just wrong, it is insubordinate to the explicit exhortation of Pope Francis to get vaccinated (https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/10/13/archbishop-catholic-troops-vaccine-conscience/).


The tragedy for Trumpsters is that a president who championed the development of vaccines in record time wasted an opportunity to be a savior of national, even international, health. 


COVID-19 was not of his making, but Donald Trump resisted any hint that under his time in office America would be invaded by a pathogen or would have to resort to extraordinary means to fight its spread. 


So he downplayed the benefits of testing and masking. He promised instantaneous relief once the weather warmed. He suggested bizarre, even dangerous, treatments. He privately got vaccinated instead of publicly demonstrating their utility. 


Bottom line—even with hundreds of thousands of deaths and related illnesses, Trump could have won reelection if he had acted like a war time president instead of a frighted autocrat. 


Back to Spitballing: Of course I was just kidding about internment camps, but a recent poll revealed a more disturbing openness to a dramatic resolution to our national divide. 


The survey by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics found “52% of Trump voters at least somewhat agree with the statement: ‘The situation is such that I would favor [Blue/Red] states seceding from the union to form their own separate country.’ Twenty-five percent of Trump voters strongly agreed. 


Forty-one percent of voters who favored Joe Biden at least somewhat agreed; 18% rated their agreement as strong. 


A partition of the United States into blue and red countries is evocative of the mass population shifts at the creation of independent Muslim Pakistan and secular but largely Hindu with a large Muslim minority India in 1947. Religious strife prompted the separation. Tension has never eased between the countries.


As dailymail.com reported, the foundation of an American partition rests on the belief that the other side is unAmerican: “Over 75% of voters on both sides agreed with the statement: ‘I believe that Americans who strongly support the [OPP_PARTY] have become a clear and present danger to the American way of life.’ Seventy-five percent of Biden voters at least somewhat agreed with the statement, as did 78% of Trump voters.” 


Click on the link to the article and table with more details on the widening gap of national unity: https://mol.im/a/10050039.


Beyond a COVID-19 vaccine, Americans need a dose of brotherly love. 

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