I am angry with some of you. I mean those of you who have not yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. You are putting the health of all of us, including children, at risk. You also are risking our economic recovery by restarting the pandemic.
Your decision to forego the vaccine is not a personal one, however you want to rationalize your thought process. If you get sick, you may get medical care from the government via Medicaid or Medicare, which my taxes help pay for. Some of you also will require emergency care that insurance won’t cover. If you get the care—and I hope you do—the hospital will absorb the cost of your unpaid bills. This undermines its ability to offer health services to the rest of us.
Some of you may wonder why I get so worked-up. The answer is the Delta Variant. Call it COVID-19 Version Two if you want. I call it the biggest threat to our country since Version One showed up a year and a half ago.
The Delta Variant is a new strain of the coronavirus that is now dominant in the U.S. It is more contagious and more likely to infect children. Proof of its potential to restart the pandemic may be found in the rising infection and hospitalization rates in the states with the lowest vaccination rates.
I am very afraid of the Delta variant. I am joined in my fear by the CDC, the mayor of Los Angeles and a lot of Wall Street investors. You may ask why we should care about them? The answer is reflected in the 900-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday. It appears that sophisticated investors have concluded that there is sufficient risk of the Delta variant crashing the recovering economy to justify selling stocks.
When Wall Street talks, it is worth listening. When the Street shouts, as it did on Monday, we need to listen. The Street tells us that we could again have massive unemployment, lockdowns, and closed schools. What the Street didn’t say directly yesterday, is that the new crisis is, or should I say, was, avoidable. Had everyone had access to the vaccine gotten it, you would not be reading this column. You also would not have to start worrying about reliving 2020.
I got my vaccine in March after trying several weeks to get one. When I finally got an appointment, I showed up an hour early. I wasn’t going to risk a screw-up. My primary motivation was self-preservation, but I also did not want to infect anyone else.
In the last 10 days, we have learned that Los Angeles has reimposed a mask-mandate. We are watching the sad circus of the 2020 already-postponed Tokyo Olympics. We see baseball games postponed because players have contracted the virus. And we see many small business owners getting nervous again just as the crowds start to return.
Earlier this week I went to Lowe’s to pick up a few items. Having just listened to an NPR story about the Delta variant, I decided to wear a mask when I entered the store. Once inside, I noticed that few people were masked. Ironically, most of the masked customers, like me, were older. Most of them, I suspect, have been vaccinated. What about the younger people in the store, the ones without masks? Are they vaccinated? I don’t know. That worries me.
How is Maryland doing? The CDC tells us that 76.2 percent of those of us 18 or older have received at least one shot. Approximately 56.4 percent have had both shots. That is good, but not great. We need to do better, don’t you think?
For more information:
Dorchester County: https://dorchesterhealth.org/covid-19/
Kent County: https://www.accesskent.com/Health/coronavirus.htm
Talbot County: https://talbotcovid19.org/
State of Maryland: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, birds, and occasionally goldendoodles