At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I called it “America’s moment” and urged a military-style response. The American people’s acceptance of the initial lockdown and social distancing measures showed a community spirit that many thought lacking in today’s society. In the end, we met the moment in a uniquely American way – through technological innovation resulting in effective vaccines that would allow us to resume a normal life. Now the resistance to those vaccines risks wasting this moment because of a combination of political pique and selfish independence.
Anti-vaxxers like to seize on the inherent uncertainties of the “fog of war” to quibble with statistics while ignoring the obvious. It is a fact that COVID cases and hospitalizations are rising significantly among the unvaccinated population for the first time in months due to the new Delta variant. If you’re above 30 years of age, you have a significantly higher risk of hospitalization or death if unvaccinated. Moreover, while breakthrough infections are possible, the evidence suggests that persons vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are less likely not only to acquire the original disease and its variants, but are also less likely to transmit it to others.
Unfortunately, former President Trump and some governors are catering to the anti-vaxxers by opposing or even banning mask and vaccination mandates by local governments and private businesses trying to protect their citizens and continue the return to normal. A better response would be to encourage vaccinations by enacting a federal worker’s compensation system that would protect workers who have a fear (however much it’s been hyped) of a reaction to the vaccine. Such a system would also insulate businesses from potential legal liability so they can continue to operate normally.
Vaccination refuseniks espouse a warped sense of American independence to justify a response that endangers their fellow Americans. They seek to assert their “independence” by exposing themselves and their fellow Americans to painful and expensive hospitalization and even death. They also jeopardize the normalization of everyday life they claim to crave. As TR said above, a free people must exercise their freedom responsibly. I challenge all of the unvaccinated to look into Roosevelt’s eyes and tell him why they should be allowed to so endanger their fellow Americans and the American example to the world.
A nation-state’ s power has traditionally been measured by the size of its military and economy. As the attached article points out, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights a new and crucial source of national power – a nation’s resilience. Resilience is defined as the ability to sustain and adapt to a systemic shock, or, as the old Timex watch commercial put it, the ability to take a licking and keep on ticking. It is based on adequate infrastructure and governmental legitimacy more than material resources.
Resiliency, however, comes in many forms. China’s centralized communitarian culture allowed it to bounce back faster from the pandemic, but only by using the same totalitarian governmental repression that caused the crisis in the first place. In contrast, the individualistic culture of America hobbled our ability to control the spread after it arrived, but our decentralized federalist system gave state and local leaders the flexibility to create the necessary controls when the federal government failed to provide leadership. Our freedom to innovate also helped foster development of reliable treatments and vaccines faster than China.
At the same time, the weaknesses exposed by the pandemic must be addressed, especially those in our manufacturing capacity and health infrastructure. By prioritizing efficiency over resiliency in our economy, we ended up dangerously dependent on China and other governments for vital materials, and not just in the medical field. The article touts strong alliances as a solution, but they cannot replace onshore local capacity in a crisis. Building national vigor means identifying and protecting resources we need to survive a future shock, whether it be from a disease, cyberattack, or climate change.
Theodore Roosevelt advocated “the strenuous life” of exercise and outdoor activity as a way of achieving personal resilience. Both require short- term sacrifice and effort to build the stamina necessary to meet future challenges. Similarly, we Americans will need to be willing to pay higher prices for domestically-produced goods or higher taxes in order to create the national resilience to remain a great power and a shining example of freedom. The immediate pain will be well worth it in the long run.
We are all praying that Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top officials successfully complete their current quarantine after potential exposure to the coronavirus. In the meantime, information and statistics remain crucial weapons in the fight against further outbreaks of COVID-19. As America and other countries reopen after two months of lockdown, we still have much to learn about the disease. Epidemiologists will still need to crunch data about rates and methods of infection to determine how the disease is transmitted until we develop and distribute a safe and effective vaccine. Experts say this could take as long as two years.
In the meantime, there is an easy way you can help. The Stanford University Medical School is conducting a survey by Internet of Americans to improve the tracking of the disease. They are attempting to determine if potential hotspots can be identified simply by asking how people are feeling and whether they are experiencing any of coronavirus symptoms. After completing a short initial survey on relevant demographic information and the symptoms, you will receive a daily e-mail asking simply if you are feeling better, the same or worse and whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19. It takes less than a minute to complete and the link is at the top of this post. I have been participating for the last two weeks. The more people who participate, the more reliable the study will be and the more we can target our efforts on the truly vulnerable.
Please consider taking the short period of time to complete the survey and participate daily. Working together, we can keep America healthy and open while we look for treatments and the holy grail of a vaccine.