Commencing Year Three

On St. Patrick’s Day 2020 I went to see my Primary Care Provider for a routine check up. When I came home I went into self-imposed home confinement for several months in reaction to the pandemic. Early this morning I’m seeing Cathy again and when I return my self imposed out of prudence restrictions will be nowhere near as strict but I’m certainly not foolish enough to sound the all clear.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2020 anyone with half a brain – and that excluded the then occupant of the White House – was somewhere between scared and very concerned. Since that time we have learned much more about what we are dealing with. I remember sanitizing the mail and groceries which has since proven to be unnecessary. I still wash my hands much, much more often which I think has helped me avoid some common colds – not a bad thing. We can loosen up some but we are far away from sounding the all clear. Unfortunately many among us already have and even our Congress has lost its sense of urgency in relation to this matter. It’s simple boys and girls: the virus is still out there and this “ballgame” is far from over!

Recently Congress passed an omnibus budget bill. At the eleventh-hour pandemic related funding was pulled because (in the options of a large, diverse and bi-partisan group) the language was sloppy. Why wasn’t this one of the top priorities? How did sloppy language get that far? How did it get to that point in the first place? What are you people doing? Is it any wonder most Americans have little faith in their government?

As of this writing the latest 14 day rolling average of daily new infections is 32,094. Tuesday it was announced that multiple vaccine manufacturers have submitted paperwork to the FDA for a fourth dose (second “booster”) for seniors. The White House is telling the public that sans an appropriation the money to pay for that shot doesn’t exist. Also, funding to vaccinate those without health insurance – and that is tens of millions of Americans – is about to dry up. It’s simple: until everyone is vaccinated effectively no one is vaccinated. We simply all breathe the same air and we are dealing with an air borne virus.

While the American number of new infections is currently declining that is not the case in Europe and China. A pandemic by its very definition is global. It seems to me that we may well be entering into a “pass it around” stage. My biggest fear remains that given enough time the virus will mutate into a form that our vaccines will not be effective against. That may never happen and I certainly hope it doesn’t but we still have to be cognizant of that possibility. Delays could mean deaths.

The other day President Obama announced that he tested positive. He is fully vaccinated and boosted so the odds are he will be fine. However, this illustrates that even those taking prudent actions (I know from personal interaction that he is an exceptionally bright guy) can still fall victim to COVID-19. (For just a second think about the “19”.)

In the era of Trump – and make no mistake today’s GOP is still in that era – “Republican leadership” is as incongruous as “jumbo shrimp” (the late George Carlin had a heck of a routine about that). Republicans accused Obama of leading from behind. There is not much we can do about the past other than learn from it but in that vein, I’d say Donald Trump failed to lead because he was behind the truth due to denial.

This should be an extremely high congressional priority. Get a supplemental funding bill to the floor and pass it before the month is out! Whether you realize it or not American lives hang in the balance. In recognition of March Madness, I’ll conclude with a basketball analogy. If you are far ahead on the scoreboard with several minutes remaining you may well clear your bench but you don’t clear the floor.

P.S. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to the Irish and all those pretending to be for at least a day.

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