Thursday, February 10, 2022

Thinking About March 11

In a month it will be March 11th, the second anniversary of the day that the COVID-19 pandemic became "real" to a majority of Americans. President Trump declared a travel ban from Europe, the WHO pronounced we were in a global pandemic, and the NBA called off games. Oh yeah, and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they had COVID. For that reason I think March 11th should have special meaning going forward in the United States, especially this year.

It appears that we are nearing a spiritual end of the pandemic, with the Omicron wave's crash marking a convenient time for politicians in an election year to lift mask mandates. Another variant could certainly come around, but it's likely we won't see an uptick in cases for several months. Pandemics don't end because of stats, they end when people have spiritually moved on. I think we are getting close to that point, even if the death toll will remain persistently high. Other pandemics point to this dynamic.

It's imperative that in the desire to "move on" we do not forget to learn some lessons. The pandemic has shown the woeful performance of so many people in authority. For instance, Donald Trump's malevolence gave cover to the CDC's incompetence. Now that he's not actively shitting the national bed it's easy to see how badly the CDC failed. Our federal system of government looks like a disaster too, preventing any kind of unified response to a national pandemic. Protocols and rules varied so much they got confusing. Red state troglodyte governors and wingnut judges basically torpedoed any chance at universal or near universal vaccination. The widespread opposition to mitigating the virus and the way that it became a partisan issue rather than an issue of life and death ought to give us pause.

Beyond remembering the dead and ruminating on our failures, I think March 11th would be a good time to do a reset on some things. After two years maybe the CDC and the national government can orient themselves around clarity and consistency. Now that vaccination is lagging but crucial to the death toll not getting out of hand more effort can be made to get people vaxxed. That can be with a stick (mandates) or with a carrot (going into communities and proactively vaxxing and boosting people.) The whacko courts have limited national mandates but having schools add COVID vaccines to their current requirements would probably go a long way. 

In general we need days like March 11th to remind us that we are all in this together, whether we like it or not. We don't really have a choice! With the news dominated by anti-vaxxer truckers shutting down Canada it's time for the silent majority of people who want to make necessary sacrifices to hold the virus at bay to stand up and be counted. Our meakness in the face of anti-vax insanity has been one our biggest failures, and one we would do well to reflect on. 

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