As I post today news stories abound about the slow pace of vaccinations in our nation while at the same time there are increased cases of COVID, mainly resulting from a truly concerning and fast-spreading variant. While baseball games, fairs, and cookouts are bringing people ample reasons to smile there are some harsh facts awaiting the nation if medical advice and common sense are tossed aside in the coming weeks.
The reason for the dismay, as too many Americans continue to express ‘vaccine hesitancy’, is that the virus causing the pandemic has the capability of mutating. In the first months of the worldwide health crisis, the changes were small, but as researchers have discovered in the last months of 2020, instead of one of two mutations, there were 10 or 20. With the ability to spread faster and gain steam with perhaps not kneeling to the antibodies there is real concern among medical professionals and scientists.
Today the Delta variant is front and center as to why there must be a higher degree of awareness and compliance with measures to combat its spread. The reasons are quite obvious from following the news stories in the papers. First, tests confirm that Delta replicates more easily than earlier variants. That strongly suggests, as professionals have alerted us, that a smaller initial dose is needed for an infection to take hold. It also means that the amount of virus lurking in people’s airways is probably higher.
The way such data is determined is with swabs taken from people which shows the amount of virus is higher than for other variants. That then leads to the awareness that those infected people are exhaling more virus than those infected by an older variant. This is then the reason that social interactions between an infected and uninfected person poses a greater risk of transmission.
The cavalier attitude of too many in the nation about the virus and the lack of understanding as to why getting the vaccine shots are essential to our national well-being–both physically and economically–is dispiriting. There is a deep split in the nation between those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated.
I was waiting for an oil change recently at MINI of Madison. While reading a book in the waiting area I sensed someone, who was also waiting upon the maintenance department, was staring at me. I looked up and glanced a couple of times. I finally asked, “Do we know each other?”
“No. I was just wondering why you are wearing a mask.”
Spotting a chucklehead is so much easier when they open their mouth.
I explained that while my husband and I were both vaccinated (fully so on June 5th) we continued to wear a mask in business settings and places where larger groups of people gathered. I expressed my concern about the variants, and the need to also help protect others I might encounter who are not vaccinated. While I was very certain I was not infected I did not want to be asymptomatic and spread it to someone not vaccinated.
I never got to the point of asking him when he was vaccinated as he asked, “You think the government should be able to tell a person to take a shot?”
And there he was in a self-defining light.
I responded by using facts, logic, and reason as to why one should get the vaccine shots. I was never snarky with the man to his face, as I try to use such encounters to get at least a few facts across, as we can pretty much determine where such people get their ‘news’ the rest of the time.
I soon returned to my book. But the national story was right there in front of me. The glaring division between Democrats and Republicans. How medicine and logic make for a stark and might I say–ugly–dividing line in the nation is a question that simply baffles me.
What I tried to impart to the man in our conversation is that being a responsible person and getting the vaccine slows the spread of the virus. It will not stop it. The current vaccines do not stop all infections by any version of the virus. Nor do they stop infected people from passing the virus on, though they do make it significantly more difficult.
The data continues to be amassed about this virus, and it is highly troubling. Southern states, which are heavily Republican have the sad distinction of being among the lowest vaccinated in the US. Last night on the news it was reported that Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas have reported some of the highest increases in cases in the past several weeks. And let us not forget that Covid-19 deaths in the US are still about 200 per day.
We are a rich country with the means to distribute the vaccines and get the shot into the arms of residents in even the most remote sections. What we lack, however, is common sense in a sizable segment of the nation who truly never question themselves about coming to terms with things of which they do not know.
And so the virus is spreading in certain parts of the country where they live.
And so it goes.