Jul. 14—If you travel about the country, as I just did to visit my dad in
But you don't have to look any farther than
Now July is already running worse than June.
Few are doing the mask-wearing and social-distancing thing anymore. We're done with a pandemic that is not done with us.
Those three counties referred to above —
At the district's main testing site in
What's happening is as simple as it is frustrating: Only about half, or fewer, of the eligible people in these counties have gotten vaccinated. In
Our state is also now reporting that the delta variant, the one that's coursing through states like
I bring all this up to say: We had our chance to stomp down the coronavirus. We didn't do it. We blew it.
The whole point of attaining "herd immunity" isn't that the virus would be gone. It's that when an outbreak occurs, it could be isolated and contained because most people would have some level of immunity.
But that "most people" threshold has not been reached in too many places. And based on the dwindling rates of vaccination, we aren't going to reach it. So we're likely to see repeating cycles of these "delta surges."
It's time to just let people live with the consequences, I guess. It's all so unnecessary, though. The state is caught betwixt and between — the emergency is seemingly over, yet in a parallel universe it rips and runs. With the vaccines so easy to get there's no longer much point in asking why up to two-thirds of residents in some counties won't get the shots.
This "two societies" thing is starting to raise awkward questions, though.
"This is crass," one reader wrote me the other day, "but who pays? If someone refuses for political beliefs to get vaccinated, gets COVID, goes to the hospital, has no health insurance, then who pays? There are ramifications for their refusal ... who pays for these ramifications?"
The big picture answer first: We will all pay, through hospital charity care, higher health costs, taxes to support Medicare or Medicaid, and so on. This is why a few weeks ago I was ready to pay people to get vaccinated — we're going to pay one way or another.
But lately one influential player said it won't be them paying anymore. The insurance companies have signaled they are done with special "we're all in this together" pandemic rules. For the past year, most insurers had agreed to waive any copays or deductibles for COVID treatments. Now those deals are over.
The largest health insurer in
This "is a big deal if you get sick" from COVID, an insurance consultant told
Maybe that's the answer to vaccine resistance. Because the only thing scarier than the threat of a virus contagion or infecting grandpa or possible death? Being thrown to the mercy of American health insurance.
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