Don Rogers: Pandemic’s end a test, too
If Israel and the United Kingdom are any indication, widespread vaccination will knock the pandemic down to … normal life. Something near.
Perhaps we’ll relearn that high virtue, forgiveness, in the wake of this trial. Why not? We learned resilience, new ways to get work done, Zoom, online ordering.
Some of us also learned folly, depression, grief, though these were not nearly so widespread nor the disease so deadly as at first feared. Still, it is widespread. It is deadly. It is the third-leading cause of death in America, right behind cardiac disease and cancer whether you count by diagnosis or annual deaths above average. It is real.
We picked up some other tics — not our best selves — in our confusion about science, liberty, limits of ideology, even community. Or maybe these weaknesses of modern life were only laid bare during crisis.
I mean progressives and conservatives here. Neither party has it quite right, although progressives have consistently tipped toward the safer course, however smugly if unsupported at times. The scolding has been about as grating and useless as the childish grousing about liberty.
Forget about convincing either of the errors of their ways. All that hollering, so little listening. Instead let’s resolve to count to 10 with each other. This has been a hard time. Sure, we can learn to forgive. It’s a signature of love in more than one faith. A key step in healing.
Nevada County peaked at third this week among California’s 58 counties in current contagion rate.
That’s not great, though there are plenty of places worse. We stand out as high now in a state running very low with COVID-19.
Let Truckee High’s off-campus outbreak pass and maybe we’ll be back among the pack, not that we’ve been all that much higher than Placer, Yuba, El Dorado or metropolitan Sacramento.
Nevada County, at one person in 21 catching the disease for the duration of the pandemic, remains lower than the neighbors and among the lightest-touched areas in the country.
We’ve actually been pretty good at wearing masks, if a hair behind some at getting vaccinated.
Local government has been judicious dealing with state restrictions that, it must be said, have changed often and not for clear reason, especially not for our location. The result was more and more businesses and other organizations stopped following them. And still our numbers fell from the peak of the holiday surge.
The new numbers no longer come from assisted living centers; those folks are vaccinated. Outbreaks continue from larger social and family gatherings, such as Truckee High’s. Some in the workplace, sure. Still no outbreaks — none reported, anyway — among patrons at restaurants in Nevada County. Yes, we’re watching with interest.
The effectiveness of lockdowns looks mixed. Check Texas, Florida, Idaho, Hong Kong, South Korea, even Sweden, which took lighter hands than most. New York under lockdown had the deadliest surge in the world to date. The coronavirus caught up with restrictive California over the holidays despite promising early days. Hard to credit restrictions for the big decline when few followed them in the end.
Masks are helpful, but the protection is modest, far from complete. Social distancing and good hygiene have been reliable practices.
And the vaccines work the best, proving effective and safe. Of 245 million doses as of May 3, there were 4,178 reports of deaths following vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not one passed medical review as the vaccination being the cause of death. Not one. In other words, the association was casual, not causal. Don’t trouble an anti-vaxxer to note the difference.
By the way, 245 million cases of COVID-19 counted in America would translate to over 4.4 million deaths.
Authorities paused the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when 7 cases of a rare blood clot arose in 7 million doses, which turned out to match the regular rate independent of a vaccine. The J&J shots were approved to resume. The pause was a good sign of paying attention to such things and in reality taking great care.
But why should the rest of us bother with shots if this disease primarily targets the elderly? After all, only one person under 60 in Nevada County has died to date. This question is raised mostly by the mask-less “liberty” lovers proud of not being “sheep.” That is, contributing members of a greater community.
The reason for vaccinating everyone isn’t based only on the elderly. Besides the young infecting the old, there’s lessening the chances of the disease mutating into a form far more deadly for the rest of the population, perhaps even children.
Just as a mask is less for yourself than to protect others from your spittle, those of us under 65 get vaccinations to protect others. Maybe that looks like sheep to the selfish, but it actually makes sense.
We have freedom, which is great, always worth celebrating and never to be taken for granted. With great freedom also comes responsibility, right? Big talk about liberty doesn’t count for much otherwise.
Indeed, it may take reaching deep to forgive the fools who don’t understand this much.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.
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