Don Rogers: The end of pandemic

Well, I’m thinking we’ve crested the last of the big spikes. The pandemic ebbs from here. Only ripples after Delta.

I know, I know. Too bold. Such a declaration isn’t rational, and I’m no doctor, epidemiologist, public health officer, soothsayer, politician, priest. Not that the professionals have had any great luck in forecasting, divining God’s will or anything approaching clarity on what the science is saying from one moment to the next. No one can know what’s around the bend.

So I can’t confuse things any further by sharing my own rosy outlook. Maybe that’s the point. Confusion has to begin settling sometime into shadowy forms and then at least the outlines of firmer patterns that will reveal themselves eventually. Fog always lifts.

But why so rosy now, still amid a surprise of a surge that stripped away any budding confidence we had about this ending with summer and with who knows how many variants yet lurking?

1. There’s gut feeling, dangerous but our most subtle, finely tuned means of cognition when on.

2. There’s history: Far deadlier and more enduring pandemics than this one reliably reached their ends, looking back.

3. There’s the fact we’re learning more and faster as COVID-19 grinds on. We’re a clever species. Among our masses of morons are those few geniuses who figure things out. They are doing this generally and at a faster pace than ever. This is happening specifically as our best and brightest focus on the disease.

I’m leaning into all three, maybe for rational reasons or maybe because I just need hope right now for hope’s sake. I think we all do.


I mentioned patterns. That is to say, hints or directions of evidence. We’ll surely build upon them now. Shadows gain substance from here. We may be surprised how quickly.

The most important one concerns vaccines. In time, even some of those trucking in misinformation will take note as people under their sway begin to realize their error.

This will have direct results in vaccination rates. The difference in probability of serious illness and death between catching the disease and the orders of magnitude lower risk of the vaccines themselves will only become sharper.

For now, the big glop of Republicans who let politics be their guide about getting their shots is paying a big price in lives, one of those emerging facts that will become harder and harder to ignore. The red county death rate since June is running at 47 per 100,000 population, while the blue counties nationwide with higher vaccination rates are running at a fifth of that at 10 per 100,000 people.

At some point, even populist Republicans will break ranks with their orthodoxy, bending to the obvious for the sake of their own lives. We may not get all the way down to just the usual nuts and berries who skip their shots while swearing that something like celery will keep them safe. But that goal concerning the greater herd will edge closer.

The remaining morons — sorry, but this is only the truth as evidence mounts — will get sicker as a cohort even as most individuals as always will escape with comparatively light symptoms. The disease is serious as the third-leading killer of Americans. It’s not the Black Death. It’s not cancer. It’s not cardiac disease.

We know that people who survived the bug have some degree of immunity for some period of time. Studies in sum will clarify whether this is stronger, weaker or close to similar protection from vaccines. The best advice for now is to double down on immunity and get your shots even if you’ve had the disease.

Pandemics like this run their course this way, some combination of people catching the disease or being vaccinated, even with breakthrough cases, always part of the picture. Vaccines blunt your chances of catching the disease and pretty thoroughly guard against cases serious enough for hospitalization or causing death. This, too, will only become clearer with time.

Boosters have entered the picture as the disease evolves, and so maybe this will resemble the flu in one way, at least, with the need for annual shots. But this is no surprise, either. This shadow firmed into shape quickly.


The mortality of the unvaccinated from COVID-19 will clarify into a statistical trend. The lie that vaccines are anywhere near as dangerous as the disease will emerge as just that, as well. It’s already happening.

The new breed of vaccines will improve, and not only for COVID-19, as well as better treatments emerge for serious cases.

Part of the problem with this pandemic is the relative rarity of the most serious cases. Of course, such a case is not rare if it’s happening to you or one of your loved ones. This is how lotteries work. Someone “wins.”

But for all our human craziness, stupidity, predilection toward tribal assumptions and the false certainty those offer, for all our laziness and refusal to think logically, I still trust that wisdom will prevail.

In the meantime, an observable degree of bad judgment — tragic as these consequences are — will select toward better personal decisions for the benefit of our species as a whole. That is, fewer who get their vaccines, keep their distance and wear their masks appropriately will die.

That actually is rational, about as rational as it gets, if also cold and cynical. I prefer hope.

Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at or 530-477-4299

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