A friend’s little girl couldn’t come out to play with my daughter the other day. She was ill with the sniffles and Dad was trying to keep it from her, as his neighbors all have COVID. My friend said that one of them works in an elderly care facility where the virus is spreading like wildfire.
Meanwhile, a relative just wrote to me with an email headline reading, “It’s in the building…” She works for the town, and her fellow employees at the tiny town hall are going down with COVID one by one by one, popping like virus firecrackers. The law in the state prohibits the closing of the town hall in the current circumstances. Therefore, someone must always be present during business hours. COVID is the same as Rust.
Back in April, when the BA.2 COVID variant was on the loose, I wrote, “Almost 42,000 people were newly infected yesterday, a two-week uptick of 42 percent.” How quaint. Three months later, there were over 126,000 new infections with more than 41,000 people requiring hospitalization. These are the BA.4/BA.5 variants, which are the most prevalent strains in the country.
“Nearly two-and-a-half years since the coronavirus pandemic began,” reports CNN, “the most infectious and transmissible variant yet has arrived. Multiple Covid-19 outbreaks have resulted in millions of deaths. Only vaccines were able to stop the spread. Now the virus is spreading again — evolving, escaping immunity and driving an uptick in cases and hospitalizations. The latest version of its shape-shifting, BA.5, is a clear sign that the pandemic is far from over.”
Well, if that’s the case, what are we doing about testing? Track and trace The FDA has asked vaccine makers to make Omicron-adapted boosters. They could be released this fall. Scientific American pointed out earlier this month, that is “too late to prevent the current surge in cases resulting from the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.”
Where is Congress all this while? “A congressional deal for billions of dollars in additional coronavirus funding appeared all but dead Thursday,” reported The Washington Post on June 16, “after Senate Republicans accused the White House of being dishonest about the nation’s pandemic funding needs…. Biden officials said last week they had no choice but to repurpose about $10 billion from other covid priorities, such as testing, to purchase more coronavirus vaccines and treatments, since Congress had not been able to reach agreement.”
That was over a month ago and nothing has ever happened since.
This is all dangerous on many levels, as we’ve all heard. COVID has already claimed the lives of over 1 million Americans. Even if they have been fully vaccinated for the disease, people with immunocompromised conditions or pre-existing medical conditions are still at risk. The variants are making their way into the world, as we feared. straight through the vaccines. As hospital beds get fuller, people with heart disease, cancer, and other maladies are forced to wait, and any necessary medical procedures are delayed. These people may not be affected by COVID but if they are due to delays in treatment, COVID will kill them.
“State and local public health officials say they also must now factor in a reality that is obvious along the streets from Seattle to New York City: Most Americans are meeting a new Covid wave with a collective shrug, shunning masks, joining crowds indoors and moving on from the endless barrage of virus warnings of months past,” reports The New York Times. “Complicating the country’s understanding of this BA.5 wave is a dearth of data. Not since the earliest months of the pandemic has there been so little precise information about the number of actual infections in the United States.”
So here we stand. Donald Trump’s towering legacy has rendered science — along with Band-Aid level preventive technologies like face masks — completely politically toxic. This was done in support of capitalism, nay, total stop. BA.5 is a global crisis — upon its appearance, new cases worldwide jumped in one month from 477,000 a day to 940,000 a day — and yet we barely hear a whisper about it. More infections mean more variants. The silence from Democrats, the “party in charge,” is equally deafening. Talk about masks! Talk about masks? Election year? Perish the thought.
“There’s a lot the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can do to slow the BA.5 subvariant and prevent deaths,” reports David Axe for Rolling Stone. “But both the FDA and CDC have dragged their heels. The FDA still hasn’t taken arguably the most important steps — approving both second boosters for Americans under age 50 and new booster formulations for subvariants such as BA.5. The CDC meanwhile isn’t clearly communicating to the public just how serious BA.5 is.”
We think we’ve paid the piper with this thing, put in our hard time and did the lifting, but we haven’t. But not yet. It’s July, hot as Hades, and new infections are still exploding. I can quote Eddard Stark as much as the next fellow — “Winter is coming” — but we are apparently lining up once again to do it the hard way.
“Warnings are wind,” to crib another line from Game of ThronesIt is not happening right now, and the winds aren’t blowing. Once the snow melts and the flowers poke their way through the freshly dug graves, how much will we regret our inaction? Again.