Editorial: Lawmakers thwarting efforts to fight COVID-19 are toying with lives

Biologically speaking, viruses are not alive.

They don’t need to be alive to harm us.

The microscopic parasites thrive in the gray area of the undead and wreak havoc on the living by hijacking our cells to replicate.

This is the case with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease that has hijacked our world and caused civilization to grind to a near halt.

Humankind has been studying viruses since the 1890s. We know a great deal about how they operate and how to control them.

This is why it is mind-blowing that so many state and national lawmakers work so egregiously to impede efforts to combat the virus.

Even more disturbing is the fact that they do so as the Delta variant proves to be more than 225 percent more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain.

There are those who downplay the seriousness of these times by reinforcing resentment of masks and unfounded fears of vaccines that can fend off the terror that comes with severe COVID infections.

Science has proven that vaccines work and mask are effective.

This never should have become a political game, even though lives are being toyed with through measures that could put people at risk and deepen the public skepticism of the masks and vaccines sown by former President Donald Trump’s administration.

An Ohio bill introduced by Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, would ban public schools and universities from requiring students, staff, and visitors to wear masks while in class, at school-sponsored sporting events or during extracurricular activities.

Although it is expected to be moot when vaccines receive full approval from the FDA, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a Republican pushed bill that prevents public schools and universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students and staff.

The so-called Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination law and other anti-vaccine efforts that undermine public safety are a cold slap in the face to those who lost loved ones and those who lost their livelihoods during the pandemic.

They defy logic.

The global, national, state, and local death and hospitalization statistics tell the story of a ruthless foe that hits both those with existing health issues and the healthy.

More than 4.12 million lives were stolen worldwide, including 609,0000 in the United States.

We’ve seen more than 20,500 COVID-19 deaths in Ohio, including nearly 1,500 in Franklin County.

The dead were mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors.

They attended church, ran races, cared for the sick, lived normal lives.

The lawmakers, the political pundits and talking heads who rant against masks, vaccines and other preventative measures are partly culpable for the lives that will be taken during what is now being dubbed the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

The way out is not microscopic. It sits right in front of our eyes as bright as an electric billboard.

Fewer than 1% of people now being hospitalized with COVID-19 are vaccinated.

More than 97% of people who are entering the hospitals with coronavirus infections are unvaccinated.

“If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk. And our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations, and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said recently.

This does not bode well for Ohioans.

Only four states – Louisiana, Montana, Idaho, and North Dakota – fall behind us when it comes to vaccination benchmarks set by the federal government.

It is projected that 70% of this state’s adult population will not be vaccinated until May of 2022, according to a Washington Post analysis published in Becker’s Hospital Review.

Experts fear that there will be outbreaks across the state partly because vaccination rates vary here so widely: nearly 64% in Delaware County to just under 15% in Holmes County.

The rate in Franklin County is 51%, according to the Ohio COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.

SARS-CoV-2 is just doing what a virus does.

Like any parasite, it seeks to thrive. SARS-CoV-2 finds hosts so it can replicate.

In this case, the hosts are the cells of the unvaccinated.

Residents of California and Nevada are being advised to wear masks indoors due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant mutation. Health experts warn that mask mandates might be necessary in more states as infection rates rise across the nation.

This is completely unnecessary.

We cannot see SARS-CoV-2 with the naked eye, but we have the tools to send a dagger through its figurative heart.

The question is whether we will use the tools to subdue it or continue to play games that will cost lives.

— Columbus Dispatch, July 25