After more than a year of howling like 3-year-olds, maybe some people will finally see that what the experts have been saying all along was right.
The government’s rush to get a COVID-19 vaccine developed and delivered — a push that began under President Trump and accelerated dramatically under President Biden — is working.
Thursday’s announcement from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most outdoor or indoor settings is the most dramatic step back toward normalcy since the pandemic began.
Gov. Jay Inslee followed up a few hours later, saying that by Tuesday, every county in the state will be in Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington plan. And, the governor added, we’re on a pace for a full reopening of our economy by June 30, assuming 70% of state residents have gotten at least one shot by then.
Perhaps best of all, the state is following the CDC’s recommendation and lifting its own mask mandate for fully vaccinated people. That means local businesses and individuals can now decide for themselves whether to require masks.
That’s excellent news all around. It’s what everybody, regardless of what color hat you favor, has been wanting to hear for months.
Still, it’s exasperating to consider that we’d have likely reached this point much sooner had the country not been dragging along so many whining skeptics, who kept claiming — baselessly — that the vaccine was unsafe. Or that following the science-based precautions of a civil society was somehow stripping them of their individual freedoms. Or that, despite the deaths of nearly 600,000 Americans, the virus itself was all an elaborate hoax.
Apparently, some of us lack the ability to see that you can’t simply refuse to acknowledge a global pandemic because it inconveniences you. Deadly viruses, as it turns out, don’t care what you think. No matter how much you kick, scream and stamp your feet.
Take the Yakima Health District Board of Health, for example.
Wednesday night, before the CDC’s or the governor’s announcements, the board voted to recommend that Interim Health Officer Dr. Larry Jecha drop all local mask mandates — regardless of who had or hadn’t been vaccinated. The recommendation passed with the support of all three Yakima County commissioners, Yakima Mayor Patricia Byers and Dr. David Atteberry.
County Commissioner Amanda McKinney, who put forward the motion, noted that the vote wouldn’t change state mask-wearing mandates for businesses and other public places.
That, of course, raises an obvious question: If it wasn’t going to change anything, what was the point of it the first place?
And what did the board base its recommendation on, anyway? Local infection rates are slowly declining, but Yakima County’s vaccination counts (currently around 40%) lag behind the rest of the state and we’re still recording new COVID cases every day.
Maybe that’s why it’s a good idea to have people on health boards who have actual expertise in, say, health.
Enough of that for now, though. However we got here, today is a day to celebrate a milestone we’ve waited a long time to reach.
It’s a day to celebrate the benefits of living in a country with so many intelligent doctors and scientists. The fact that U.S. experts were able to turn around these vaccines so quickly is nothing short of miraculous.
Rather than sulking about a few personal sacrifices that some of us couldn’t even be bothered to make, we should be thanking the professionals who moved heaven and Earth to get us to where we are now.