By Jim Towey
President Biden announced this week that the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Some might consider his declaration premature. Afterall, a pandemic is defined as “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease over a whole country or the world at a particular time.” Critics argue that the Covid numbers across the globe as well as the hundreds of Americans each day who die from or with Covid meet that criterion. Did President Biden jump the gun?
I don’t believe he did. But before I explain why, two groups of Americans deserve special mention on this milestone occasion. First, the men and women who died from the illness, and their families who still grieve their loss. Second, the heroic hospital, home health, long term care, hospice and other medical professionals, caregivers and social workers who risked their lives to tend to the sick and at-risk populations, often at the expense of the needs of their own family members. God bless them all.
Much-needed common sense
President Biden correctly concluded that America has to move on. In so doing, he allowed common sense to drive the national deliberations on Covid policies. Heretofore the social and economic ramifications of the mandates by the public health experts at the WHO, CDC, NIH, and other health bodies were minimized. These officials treated the coronavirus outbreak like it was a medieval plague poised to kill entire households and neighborhoods, when in fact the mortality risk was narrowly limited to the elderly, immune-compromised, and obese. Leaders imposed lockdowns. They focused on surface transmissions when the coronavirus is an airborne infection, mainstreaming germaphobia. Social distancing was touted as gospel and isolation measures were imposed on the elderly and disabled, denying death bed accompaniment and prohibiting funereal rituals for the grieving.
Over and over again, compliance with mandates was deemed more important than science and data. Natural immunity for tens of millions of Americans who had Covid was ignored because it interfered with the mandatory vaccine messaging. Even when the evidence demonstrated that vaccines and boosters weren’t preventing people from getting or spreading Covid – President Biden and Dr. Fauci being two prime examples – some influential experts and government leaders advised staying the course, adding to the harm from their edicts. They insisted on mask mandates even though they knew very few people wore the N-95 level, the only close to effective one. People slowly realized the Covid mask theater for what it was and stopped complying. And sure enough, data now shows the fatality rates in states with and without mask mandates were virtually the same.
Paying the price
With Biden’s declaration in place, now comes the reckoning for the consequences of our failed strategies at all levels of government. America is mired in a recession primarily because of the lockdowns and foolish mandates that destroyed businesses small and large. Inflation is the highest it has been in 40 years in large part because of the trillions of dollars the federal government borrowed and spent for Covid-mitigation efforts. Because of this, interest rates are soaring. Such stupefying expenditures and the inflation and interest rate mayhem we now endure will punish all Americans, particularly the poor and elderly living on fixed incomes.
And what about our children? The wholly unnecessary school closures triggered devastating educational and developmental losses, particularly for poor and minority students. The mental health damage for young people is manifesting in classroom absenteeism, depression, addictions, and other social pathologies.
President Biden may have declared the pandemic over, but Covid isn’t going away any time soon. The virus mutates so rapidly that the vaccines may never get synchronized with the subvariants they hunt. New guidance is needed on how our elderly are to live in a post-pandemic, sub-variant circulating world. They can’t be fenced off from society indefinitely. In addition, a bipartisan national commission should be created to engage in a “lessons learned” study, just as took place after 9/11. Such an initiative would identify what we got right and what we blew. Best of all, it would honor Americans who risked their lives or paid the ultimate price for Covid, and prepare us for the next pandemic.