When the Republican Party and its elected officials made the pathetically shortsighted and cynical decision to follow Donald Trump’s lead and turn the wearing of masks into a political act, they weren’t thinking of anything beyond short-term political expediency. Even though they knew fully well the deadly game they were playing, they didn’t think too far ahead about what would happen once a vaccine had been authorized, and specifically how their prior actions would serve to minimize the serious nature of the pandemic in the minds of their own voters.
When the CDC finally announced that vaccinated people could ditch their masks in most public places, their calculation was based on the science, and really couldn’t factor in the complacent, skeptical attitudes toward the virus that these Republican elected officials had fostered for over a year in the minds of millions of Americans. So when all these COVID-19-scoffing mask-deniers saw all the vaccinated folks tossing away their masks, for many their reaction wasn’t: “Gee, I’d like to get vaccinated too,” but rather, “See, I was right all along, and now the so-called pandemic is over.” In other words, they didn’t necessarily feel motivated to get the vaccine—many simply felt vindicated in their belief that the whole thing had been overblown, if not a hoax in the first place.
And did they then rush to get the vaccine? No. Millions of them went back to doing exactly what they’d been doing all along.
So it’s not really surprising that this foray into political social engineering by Trump and the GOP is now coming to its natural fruition.
The Washington Post has some sobering news for those who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19: In many states, the pandemic is showing itself to be as deadly as it ever was.
The country’s declining covid-19 case rates present an unrealistically optimistic perspective for half of the nation — the half that is still not vaccinated.
As more people receive vaccines, covid-19 cases are occurring mostly in the increasingly narrow slice of the unprotected population. So The Washington Post adjusted its case, death and hospitalization rates to account for that — and found that in some places, the virus continues to rage among those who haven’t received a shot.
The Post’s analysis, authored by Dan Keating and Leslie Shapiro, is fairly straightforward, using CDC data and adjusting for the number of those vaccinated and controlling for the possibility of infections even among those who received their doses. The results as predictable as they are stark.
Among the unvaccinated in Washington state, for example, the rate for hospitalization and deaths is the same as it was in January, the most virulent month of the COVID-19 pandemic. The national death rate for unvaccinated folks “is roughly the same as it was two months ago and is barely inching down,” while “The adjusted hospitalization rate is as high as it was three months ago.” The case rate is still declining, which makes sense since (in accordance with the research demonstrating a vast reduction in transmission from those who’ve received the vaccine), more people being vaccinated equates to fewer people spreading the virus.
For those who haven’t received the vaccine, however, COVID-19 is spreading just as fast as it ever was. The Post analyzed data from Maine, Colorado, Michigan, and Washington state; all had “adjusted rates about double the adjusted national rate.” Some states, like Minnesota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, are “slightly lower.” Also, some spikes in case rates among the unvaccinated are attributable to variants of the virus.
Keating and Shapiro acknowledge that looking at the death rates alone is not indicative of whether the pandemic is beginning to abate, since death rates are a lagging indicator of people who have been infected weeks beforehand. So they looked at the hospitalization rate, which is more indicative. In Maryland, for example, unvaccinated young adults are being hospitalized at the same rate as in January. In Washington state, the department of health has warned that unvaccinated people age 45 and higher are 11 to 18 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who’ve received vaccines.
This isn’t rocket science. It’s just a virus behaving exactly as expected, by continuing to infect as many people as possible. And while some people remain unvaccinated for medical reasons or because they simply can’t get the vaccine for themselves or their children yet, even if they want it, by and large those people aren’t the ones getting infected, because they’re still taking precautions.
Washington’s secretary of health, Umair A. Shah, interviewed for the Post article, puts it very simply:
“I hope this does not become a tale of two societies,” he said. “The people who are vaccinated and are protected can resume their lives, taking off their masks.
“The people who are not vaccinated are the ones who are not wearing a mask or washing their hands. Those are the very people who often times will socialize and be around similar like-minded people. You’re going to have the pandemic continue in those clusters.”
But the problem is that it’s already a “tale of two societies,” and has been from the get-go. Thanks to Trump and the GOP, it looks very much like its going to end that way as well.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.