When Naughty Beats Nice
American selfishness feeds the virus
We can finally say goodbye to 2020, one of the worst years ever. As we contemplate our New Year’s resolutions, it may be useful to look back at this holiday season and see if we can finally turn the corner and look forward to a great 2021. Most of us have tried to play nice, and there are a lot of local heroes to look up to. But we can’t let the naughties win.
NAUGHTY #1: THE VIRUS
If COVID-19 was a person, it would be a masterful serial killer, lethal in its stealth. It strikes randomly and grows exponentially. The British mutation that reportedly spreads 70% faster has now been found in three US states and 32 other countries. Experts have been telling us all year to hunker down. Don’t cry and tear your hair out when I say it’s time for us all to take it seriously. I mean ALL.
NAUGHTY #2: HOLIDAY TRAVELERS
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warned that spending time outside of your own household can lead to more sickness and that travel should be restricted to emergencies only. Despite this, the Auto Club (AAA) forecast that over 84 million Americans would be traveling over the holidays. Airports consistently reported over a million travelers a day all week.
I know the feeling that you need to check on the welfare of far flung relatives. I feel the desperation to get out of perpetual lockdown to a beach or a trail somewhere.
COVID is everywhere. If you somehow find some virus-free haven, there’s a chance you are bringing it with you. How many people “surprised” out of town relatives and were met with shock and fear? How many travelers social distanced on beaches? How many laughed and sang in crowded bars, without masks, because how else could you sip your margarita or drink your beer?
Doctors on television news shows repeatedly infer that the post Christmas bump up in virus cases is going to make Thanksgiving look like a piece of cake. Buckle up.
NAUGHTY #3: HOLIDAY PARTIERS
Holidays are traditionally a time for parties. The CDC recommends celebrating in your family group.
The White House has been notoriously bad at setting examples for the public to follow. Masks have been discouraged and it may not be coincidental that many people have fallen ill with the virus after being there. Over 20 parties were planned for the holiday season. As could be expected, some people got sick. There was a lavish New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago. President Trump and Melania ducked out at the last minute, but the party went on and the other 500 people, mostly maskless, enjoyed another potential super spreader event.
Most localities have restrictions on group size to try to limit spread of the virus. Police cracked down on large parties in many places.
NAUGHTY #4: VIRUS NAYSAYERS
Many people are tired of restrictions and just say, “The heck with it, nobody is going to keep me from going to (church), (wedding), (funeral), (fill in the blank).
Most people are resigned to doing these things safely in small numbers, virtually, or are just putting them off until things are more normal.
Others are all about liberty and refuse to abide by rules or recommendations to wear masks. Fine. Just stay home. When you’re in the grocery store with me (about the only place I go these days) spewing potentially lethal air, you’re interfering with my liberty. If a restaurant had a sign that said, “No shirt, no shoes, no service” you would either enter with the required items or walk on by. Please be considerate and do the same regarding a mask.
I have to call out the Hollywood actor who arranged a meetup to sing Christmas carols at a local mall, without getting permission or even notifying the mall. Christmas carols make us feel warm and fuzzy, even joyful. We all need that. But hundreds of people showed up, most without masks, singing at the top of their lungs. Welcome to the super spreader event of the season. Pity the local hospitals have no beds available.
NAUGHTY #5: VACCINE THWARTERS
The COVID-19 vaccines are supposed to save us, but the virus is so out of control in the USA that it will take a gargantuan effort. Los Angeles county had reasonable control for a while, but people got tired of following the rules and now someone is dying there on an average of every ten minutes. Hospitals are overflowing to parking garages and gift shops. Is the rest of the country far behind?
Operation Warp Speed and the record speed of vaccine production is a triumph for the Trump Administration . Trump might have won the presidential election if he capitalized on it, but he was distracted by his need to win and seemed to blow off everything else for the past few months. The vaccine effort is flailing, and nobody is taking charge.
The military and private contractors assured us they had distribution well in hand, but federal planning stopped there and all responsibility was handed off to the states. This had not been a winning strategy at the beginning of the pandemic and is even less so now, as states suffer lack of resources and personnel after months of struggling to handle the virus without added funds from the federal government.
Over 14 million doses were delivered by the end of December and only 2.8 million given. It has been estimated that getting enough people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity will take over ten years at this rate. And it’s questionable whether this vaccine would even work on a constantly mutating virus years from now.
Medical personnel and nursing home residents have the highest risk and were to be first in line, but the seeds of corruption began as rich people tried to bribe doctors with thousands of dollars to get themselves and their families vaccinated. The (no responsibility) Trump administration wants states to decide the order in which people get vaccinated, but some are getting really creative with that and in defining who an essential worker is.
Hospitals and transportation companies have to employ security firms to guard the supplies against theft. One bioethicist lamented that, “There absolutely will be a black market.”
A technician apparently intentionally left vials of vaccine with over 500 doses out of the refrigerator overnight for some unknown reason, rendering them useless. In the months ahead, a lot of unintentional mishaps or problems with the supply chain are bound to occur. There will probably be people who blow off or delay getting the second dose, essentially making the first one they got practically worthless.
NAUGHTY #6: LAGGARD LEGISLATORS
The US Congress, with stubborn people on both sides, took too long to negotiate the Covid relief bill. If the president hadn’t signed it, it would have automatically expired when the new congress is installed on January 3, leaving millions of Americans in severe jeopardy.
The president finally did sign the bill into law after three days of golfing. This Marie Antoinette moment does not instill confidence. The delay will force millions of Americans to lose a week of unemployment compensation at a time when they need it most. Money for vaccine administration will finally go out, but it’s not nearly enough.
You may have noticed that all my “naughties” concern coronavirus. If we can’t defeat that, nothing else will work. It will probably be around for a while, but we need to at least make it more manageable. And the more we work together, the faster that will come and we can get on with our lives.
I salute all Americans who resisted the propaganda and believed in the science, especially those who stayed home for the holidays in their personal bubbles, keeping themselves and the rest of us safe.
Vaccines are slowly coming, but the CDC has told us all along what we need to do. Wash your hands frequently, wear a mask, and social distance when away from your home pod. But that only works if most people do it.
I don’t want to go through another whole year of this. Nobody does. Let’s get it together and do what we have to do. We will win this war. Or else what?