With some 156.2 million people in the U.S. partly or fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, there is much to be pleased about. That is, after all, nearly half the population of the country. But wait … it’s not quite time for cheering and bow-taking just yet, for there are still the other half that are not yet vaccinated. A large number say it infringes on their “rights” and they do not plan on being vaccinated. Others are still convinced by the conspiracy theories that the pandemic is a hoax, or that the vaccine is the government’s way of implanting a microchip in their body, though for what purpose is anybody’s guess.
The bottom line is that while at one point last month, 100,000 were being vaccinated every day, the number has slowed down significantly, and many states are requesting that the government send them less than originally requested. I have a couple of points to make about the current status quo.
First, the State of Ohio, a state that is withholding the extra $300 per month in federal unemployment benefits passed by Congress and signed by the President as the American Rescue Plan, is now planning to use those funds to establish a lottery to bribe people to get vaccinated. Yes, you heard me right. Rather than use the money for the purpose for which it was intended – helping people buy groceries, pay bills, seek medical treatment – it will be spent to award five $1 million prizes to people who get the vaccine in five weekly drawings beginning on May 26th. Talk about a reverse Robin Hood — taking money away from those in need and giving it to those who will never again struggle to buy food, if they ever did. We have to PAY people to protect their own health??? What the hell is the matter with people??? Meanwhile, struggling families will still be facing unpaid rent and utility bills, and wondering how they will feed their children.
This is not and never was the purpose of those funds! Governor Mike DeWine, who I have long considered to be one of the saner, more moderate Republican governors, made the announcement in a speech last Wednesday and seemed quite pleased with himself. I find it abhorrent that he’s playing a lottery game with people’s lives, and I strongly suspect his decision to redirect funds that were supposed to be used to help the unemployed survive, to providing a financial windfall for just five people is illegal. Remember folks, this is federal money, so your tax dollars are in play here! In addition, he has said that he would be lifting all health orders that were enacted during the pandemic on June 2, except for those affecting nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. That includes the mask mandate, social distancing rules for bars and restaurants, and more. Which brings me to my second point.
The CDC suddenly reversed course and said that it is no longer necessary for those who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask in public venues. I think this is the height of stupidity for a number of reasons. First, how can you tell who has been fully vaccinated at a glance. You can’t. Republicans have been running around sans mask whenever they could get by with it since day one, and we all know there are many who will simply shed the mask whether vaccinated or not. Second, over just the past two days, there have been 65,000 new cases reported in the U.S. Granted, that number is significantly smaller than it was a few months ago, but 65,000 is nothing to sneeze at, either. I may not be as bright as the scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but when I hear we’re still averaging over 30,000 new cases each day, then I know the virus is not gone, is not ‘under control’.
So, what happens in the coming few weeks when every Tom, Dick and Harry sheds his mask and goes back to living a ‘normal’ life, frequenting bars, restaurants, amusement parks, sitting within inches of others, nobody wearing a mask? Take a wild guess? Yep, the number of cases will rise, the number of deaths will rise, and we’ll be halfway back to square one.
I have as much difficulty wearing a mask as anyone. Last week, I wore one for 20 minutes and almost passed out for lack of oxygen. But I will continue to mostly stay home, go only to the grocery store once a week with a mask on my nose and mouth, and a bottle of hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in one hand. If I can nearly die of suffocation from wearing a mask but do it anyway, then surely the rest of the fools in this country can wear one too.
I saw a comment on Twitter yesterday where a guy said “I will continue wearing a mask in public, because I don’t want to be mistaken for a Republican. That would be so embarrassing.” I have to agree with him.
Look, people, I think President Biden and his team have done one hell of a good job getting the vaccine where it is needed, encouraging the public, but the truth is we are not out of the woods yet. Let common sense be your guide, please. Remember that there are a number of new variants out there, and it has not yet been determined whether the current vaccines are fully effective on each of them. Oh, and yes, I will be getting the vaccine soon, along with my granddaughter, and no, I will not enter that damn illegal lottery! They can keep their blood money.