Editorial: We need more truth tellers on COVID-19 to fight apathy and prevent more death, illness

To fight apathy and prevent more death, illness

A recent editorial by the Akron Beacon Journal:

More than 800,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 in just under two years.

As the nation was hitting that milestone last week, Ohio health officials reported a rise in new infections. As of Wednesday, 4,735 Ohioans with COVID were hospitalized, a near-record high despite widespread vaccine availability for the past 10 months.

News that the omicron variant could soon be spreading came around the same time as our Thanksgiving gatherings. And sure enough, it’s here and raising troubling questions about our collective readiness for the winter ahead.

With so many people unvaccinated, the continuing misery is not surprising. COVID regularly is listed as a cause of death in a number of obituaries appearing in the Beacon Journal — business owners, retirees, fathers and grandmothers. News reports abound of people — on ventilators in the ICU — expressing regret that they chose not to get vaccinated.

A local hospital is using a refrigerated trailer for additional morgue space as COVID cases spike.

Despite this crush of awful news, apathy is setting in.

We hear that people are “done with” COVID and bothersome shutdowns and mandates.

A Monmouth University poll reported six in 10 Americans are “worn out” by pandemic-related changes in their lives, and nearly half of respondents are angry about the impact.

But oddly, the poll conducted early this month finds just the cautious folks are worried about catching a new variant; 66% of Americans who have received a vaccine booster shot are concerned, but among those who have not been vaccinated at all, just 12% are concerned.

That attitude among the unvaccinated is frustrating. At times, it is darkly ironic, as is the case with Marcus Lamb, founder of a conservative Christian TV network who frequently spoke against COVID-19 vaccines. Lamb, 64, died Nov. 30 after contracting the virus.

Lamb’s Daystar Network, which reaches millions through cable and broadcast TV, its website, newsletter and Facebook, has “repeatedly hosted notorious medical misinformers” during the pandemic, according to left-leaning watchdog Media Matters.

One can only hope — or pray, if you are so inclined — that Daystar’s listeners fared better than Lamb, but it seems unlikely. COVID is roaring back, with the unvaccinated most at risk.

We have the tools to slow the spread and, in many cases, prevent hospitalization or death. Health officials push this message: Get vaccinated, get your booster shots, wear masks indoors and get tested before traveling and attending holiday gatherings.

A good number of us are following that advice. Folks who choose to tell the truth about the perils of COVID — whether in obituaries or church pulpits — may be saving lives. We need more truth tellers.

State data show 6.3 million Ohioans, or only 54%, have been fully vaccinated. Doctors now agree that because of dangerous variants of COVID, a much better vaccination rate would be 85% among adults and adolescents.

That ideal is based on math and science, something many conservative political leaders and conspiracy peddlers ignore.

Donald Trump, of course, was famous for minimizing the seriousness of COVID, stating multiple times in early 2020 that the virus “is going away.”

It didn’t.

Seeing that people needed a push, many companies required employees to get vaccinated. The mandates work, with some places seeing vaccination rates jumping from less than half to more than 90%, ABC news reported.

President Joe Biden has imposed vaccine mandates on federal employees and the military and mask mandates for public transportation and air travel. But his mandates affecting private companies have been challenged by several Republican-led states, including Florida and Ohio.

Separately, Republicans in the Ohio House approved a bill last month that offers employees of private companies a means to escape workplace vaccine mandates. The bill’s supporters have twisted the meaning of personal choice and individual freedom in their fight against vaccine requirements.

People who are desperate for an end to COVID mutations and human suffering are left with one question.

Why are so many influential conservative politicians and influencers willing to lead their supporters down a road of misery and even death?

— Akron Beacon Journal, Dec. 19

To fight apathy and prevent more death, illness