July 29, 2021
The US has struggled to get half of our country to take the covid-19 virus seriously. Mask mandates seemed almost universal earlier this year, even though they were disliked and were met with growing opposition. When the CDC dropped the mandate for vaccinated people, the masks (for everyone) quickly dropped to the floor. With cases again surging, masks are again recommended, but no longer mandated. With approval of the vaccine the focus shifted to how to get people vaccinated. While the vaccine seems to be generally accepted and received in urban and Democratic areas, it is generally viewed with suspicion in rural and Republican areas of the country. The mandate divide has shifted from masks to the vaccine.
My NT Times feed this morning reported on the possibility of using mandates to require people to be vaccinated or lose access to goods and services. Mandates are obviously controversial, and many Republican officials oppose them. The National Conference of State Legislatures report at least 32 bills have been introduced across 25 states that “would limit mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for students, employees or generally.” Arkansas’ (Republican) governor signed into law various measures that prevent state and local governments from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of employment or to access goods and services. With the surge of the Delta variant mandates could become more common. Several weeks ago, covid appeared to be receding as vaccinations were rising and cases were plunging. The combination of lingering vaccine skepticism and the contagiousness of Delta has caused cases to again surge. Given the opposition, vaccine mandates are never going to be national.
Many Americans are now realizing a return to normal life is months away (if ever). The CDC now says some people should put their masks back on, even when outdoors. Businesses like Google are delaying bringing workers back to the office. Parents are anxious that schools will not fully reopen this fall, and even more worried about children too young to be vaccinated being vulnerable to “long Covid.” Experts say the primary cause of all these problems is the one third of Americans who remain unvaccinated despite being eligible. It appears they will not get vaccinated without a mandate. While the biggest cost of refusal is risking their own lives, it also affects vaccinated people with restrictions on daily life. So far, none of the mutations have been vaccine-resistant variants. It will continue to mutate.
Thoughts: While businesses are posting their own vaccination mandates, state legislatures are trying to make them illegal. This has led to another area of growing frustration as inoculated Americans are losing patience with the vaccine holdouts. Alabama’s Republican governor said it was, “Time to start blaming the unvaccinated.” Vaccine mandates effectively tell the unvaccinated they can refuse, but they will pay a price in lost access to a job, a college campus, or other shared experiences. I am constantly amazed when individuals demand their “right to choose,” yet refuse responsibility for their choices. Living in a free society means we need to allow the freedom to choose, but freedom also has its price. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.