Joshua Heath | How to End the Pandemic

Joshua Heath commentary
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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is starting to grate on people’s nerves in a way that hasn’t been true before. According to recent polling from Monmouth University, 60% of adults feel worn out and nearly half report anger over the changes they’ve been forced to endure during this ordeal.  

And that should come as no surprise. The Omicron variant continues to rip through America, overwhelming our hospitals and producing astonishing numbers of cases and deaths. At this rate, we will be forced to live our national Groundhog Day — filled with masking, social distancing, tests and other onerous restrictions — into the foreseeable future.  

It shouldn’t have been this way. Science has gifted us with a miracle vaccine that has proven to be exceptionally safe after a thorough review process cleared by our finest minds. It was our ticket out of the crisis and back into normalcy. Yet unfortunately, America has had to contend with a large anti-vax movement that has kept our immunity level low, relative to other countries, and thereby made us continuously vulnerable.  

The stubborn individuals who compose this coalition still don’t see the error in their ways. They refuse to do their part and get a shot that has been proven to be safe. The reasoning used to justify this thought process is always the same: “I’m healthy, I don’t need the shot.” “If I get it, it won’t be that bad.” “I already got COVID, I’m immune!” 

The excuses are always focused on the self. Little thought is given to the needs of one’s country, the children who desperately want to have a normal school life, grandparents who want to see their grandkids without fear, or business owners who need the pandemic to subside to solve staffing and customer issues.  

In a world where our countrymen did their part, America could return to a better place. We would not have to worry about overwhelming our hospitals, as vaccinated individuals rarely require in-patient care if they contract COVID-19, according to Centers for Disease Control data. Death rates would plummet dramatically to a fraction of where they are now.  

A massive crisis would be transformed into something resembling the seasonal flu. We could all celebrate the end of our long national nightmare, and dance in the streets as our grandparents did after the culmination of World War II.  

The big difference between the Greatest Generation and this current crop of Americans, however, is simple. Those noble ancestors understood what it meant to be a citizen; that you had rights, but also responsibilities. Freedom is not a given. It requires sacrifice. They were willing to risk life and limb on Omaha Beach to fulfill that ideal. The unvaccinated aren’t willing to risk 15 minutes out of their day to walk into a CVS.  

These fellows want a return to normalcy, but refuse to lift one finger to help us get there. Wanting something for nothing is forgivable when you’re a child. It is unacceptable in an adult.   

Our current approach is operating around an inverse moral logic. We continue to coddle the unvaccinated and let them prolong the pandemic through stubbornness. This policy has the vile effect of punishing the rest of us who have done the right things and listened to the guidance from our best minds.  

Something has to change; the government must crack the whip. Let’s start punishing bad behavior, instead of burdening those who followed the rules. It’s time to legislate the most stringent mandates necessary to get folks to buck up and take the shot. If that fails, then implement a nationwide triage system at our hospitals. Tell the medical establishment that once it appears a hospital is at risk of overcrowding — to the point where citizens will be denied life-saving care — the unvaccinated must be banned from receiving any COVID-related treatment.  

Libertarian philosophy should have consequences. You can refuse to protect your community, but that also means you give your community the right to abandon you. 

These people can’t have it both ways, and at once, shun medical advice in relation to the shot, then burden our health care system when they catch COVID. They treat science like a liberal conspiracy — that is, until the virus enters their lungs and causes their oxygen levels to plummet.  

Instead of letting the unvaccinated cause emergency rooms to crash, send them home with a bowl of chicken soup and our thoughts and prayers. Maybe Tucker Carlson will cure them.  

If you want to use the safety net, you have to also support its existence. Suppose there was a movement of citizens in rebellion against the fire department? They believed that fighting fires was a part of some nefarious government plot to destroy their rights. So in response, the goofballs stopped paying taxes for this service. But here’s the kicker — when their house was on fire, they still sought to have firefighters put out the blaze. Would any of us stand for such lunacy?  

That’s the current situation we face with the unvaccinated. These people don’t want to lift a finger to protect our hospitals from falling apart, yet still want to use the hospital when coronavirus affects them personally.  

Or look at it in another way: During the fight against Nazi Germany, America’s resources were stretched to the limits. In order to ensure the army had enough supplies to achieve victory, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted a nationwide rationing program at home that affected a broad swath of consumer goods, including gasoline, automobiles, sugar, meat, silk, shoes and nylon.  

Out of respect for the sacrifice being made by our troops, the citizens bore these burdens manfully. But imagine if there was an anti-rationing movement at the time, which, instead of complying with the policy, believed every family should have the right to buy as many products as they wanted.  

Now let’s say that, operating from this belief, these folks decided to spend widely on everything their heart desires. As a result, the army is faced with critical shortages and World War II lasts for years longer than it should. Such an entity would have been justly scorned as a coalition of the selfish, that was willing to prolong a crisis and burden our troops, simply to fulfill their own delusional political beliefs.  

The unvaccinated are acting no different. Because of their actions, the coronavirus pandemic drags on, and our soldiers on the frontline — the heroic doctors and nurses — continue to endure a war against a deadly, merciless disease.  

Until our leaders put their foot down and get tough on this nonsense, nothing will change. 

 Joshua Heath is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.

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