As the upcoming 2024 upcoming election cycle draws near, I hear politicians and pundits talking about how COVID-19 is “over” and how people should just “move on.” This is a dangerous, short sighted take.
In my opinion, the educational, socio-economic and political consequences of vaccine mandates, lockdowns and remote learning will take generations to recover from, if at all. In ramping up for the election year, many political talking heads are pushing the idea that we shouldn’t look back to learn something from what went right or wrong when it came to COVID. In life, it is always good to autopsy events to see what can be improved. It’s a common occurrence with performance reviews in job settings, quarterly and semester grades in colleges, and more.
Why should COVID response evaluation be any different?
If we are ever to evolve as a country and improve, it is critical to assess what were earnest good-faith mistakes made by elected officials during a once-in-a-lifetime event, and what was intentional misinformation and deceit. Good-faith mistakes can be overlooked and they can be learning lessons for future responses. Intentional misinformation and malfeasance cannot be overlooked and must not ever be allowed to happen again.
It will take decades to parse through the evidence to determine what was a good-faith mistake and what was intentional, results-orientated malfeasance. Time and inquiry will tell, and reasonable people may disagree. The balancing act between preserving individual rights and bodily autonomy that the left champions on a cherrypicking basis and protecting the public health are certainly legitimate and important areas to explore.
As postured right now, politicians on the right seem to want answers to questions like the origins of COVID, whether it was really just “flu-plus,” whether there was political weaponization of COVID and manipulation/possible misinformation peddled by the Centers for Disease Control and other state and local public health officials, and more. Politicians on the left don’t want to talk about it by saying COVID is “over.” According to the CDC, the COVID Public Health Emergency declaration ended on May 11, 2023. But history tells us this may not be the case, and we need to be prepared as a nation for the future.
History shows that true pandemics have ragged endings. Some return again and again. According to the Ohio State University, the Justinian Plague that swept through the Roman Empire in the 6th century returned in waves over the next 200 years. The Black Death that killed half the population of Europe between 1347 and 1351 came back more than 40 times over the next 400 years.
Don’t we have a moral and ethical obligation to seek answers to minimize effects?
To those on the left who say we should “move on” and that COVID is over, COVID will never be over for kids who fell behind in school and can’t read to the level of their peers. It is not over for those first responders and military personnel who were forced to put a vaccine in their body to feed their family. COVID is not over for all those who lost their homes, jobs and small businesses. It’s not over for the people now in bankruptcy court who got buried in debt trying to stay afloat during the lockdowns.
COVID is definitely not over for those who turned to substance use and abuse to cope with the loss of loved ones or jobs. COVID is not over for the special needs students who lost two years of needed services, nor is it over for the thousands of kids who fell out of the public school system and who have not returned.
Tell the people who are divorcing because of the COVID stressors placed on their marriage that COVID is over. Tell the residents in Fresno that the 1,000 COVID-infected mice found in a secret Chinese bio lab in their community in July 2023 that COVID is over. I dare you to say to the women who delayed or who couldn’t get mammograms for two years who are now fighting breast cancer that COVID is over.
COVID and it effects are not “over” for millions of Americans. We owe it to our country and to our fellow citizens to always seek to do and be better. We cannot progress without an objective analysis by earnest inquiry and truthful response, or else we are doomed to repeat.
Denise Lite is a Santa Clarita resident. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.