The pandemic isn’t going away because we’re tired of it

Jeff Thomas, Features Editor

With seven-day averages of over 3,000 new deaths and 150,000 new cases per day in the U.S., COVID-19 isn’t going away just because people are sick of dealing with it.

The national death toll now towers over 435,000. We are currently in the most miserable stretch of COVID-19 transmission that we’ve endured so far. On top of that, a dreaded more-contagious new strain of the virus appears to have landed in the states

Despite all this, states around the country are lifting restrictions and abandoning guidelines.

In Michigan, where total cases are now over 600,000 and the death toll is over 15,000, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order to reopen restaurants for indoor dining this week. Amid all the controversy of reopening, Michigan’s top health officially abruptly resigned without explanation.

In California, where total cases eclipse 3.3 million and the death toll is over 40,000, Governor Gavin Newsome has lifted the state’s stay-at-home order allowing for outdoor dining, barber shops to bring customers inside and residents to visit family members. California has had the most stringent restrictions in the country, this sudden reversal of policy by Newsome has supporters and critics alike wondering whether the decision was driven by science or by politics. 

This brings us to the Biden administration and how they’re handling COVID-19. Biden ran a campaign promising competent leadership and an administration that would represent and work for all American people, in his presidency so far there’ve been troubling signs to the contrary.

For one, the roll out of the vaccine has been far from ideal. While 31 million vaccinations administered is promising, with sporadic availability of the vaccine, the government getting fleeced by big pharma and questionable allocation of doses — it is doubtful that the vaccine will have an immediate impact in stopping the virus.

Biden’s “100 million vaccinations in 100 days” initiative sounds ambitious, but 100 million people is still only a fragment of the U.S. population, well short of the estimated 70% threshold necessary for eliminating the broader threat of COVID-19. 

Regardless, it is impossible to justify reopening now when vaccinations have really only just begun. Especially when scientists still aren’t certain if the vaccine stops transmission of the virus

The reopening of public schools is particularly problematic. Public schools have always been petri dishes for everything viral to spread to the broader community. Most teachers still aren’t vaccinated, and while kids are at lower risk in general for becoming critically ill with COVID-19, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to the virus.

The issue of race is also prevalent in all of this. The pandemic continues to disproportionately affect poor and minority communities. Right now roughly 75% of children dying from COVID-19 are minorities. So when the Biden administration says that children are safe, it’s hard not to wonder which children exactly they are talking about.

Despite the change in leadership, the mentality of our government towards fighting the virus continues to be callous and indifferent towards the needs of working people.

Biden’s statement from Jan. 22, “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months” was Trumpian, not only for the sheer stupidity of the words, but also for the profound dishonesty behind them.

To say that “there’s nothing we can do” while they continue to drag their feet on COVID-19 relief, continue to resist lockdown and continue to force reopening of institutions is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.

This apathy from our leadership is unacceptable, they must do more. Around the world countries with far less resources than us have responded adequately, saving lives and providing for their people. In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we have no excuses for not doing better. 

To keep plowing ahead with half-measures for stopping the virus is complete lunacy. The immediate cost of poor leadership and indecisiveness concerning the virus is American lives. The future cost will be an elongated economic depression of millions of people.

We should be doing the opposite of reopening. The government should be paying us to stay at home while vaccinations are administered. It doesn’t matter how inconvenient it is for business interests or how unpopular it is with a certain fragment of the population, it’s the right thing to do to save lives.