While we shouldn’t fall back on the 2020 lockdowns, neither can we pretend the virus isn’t infecting and killing Americans. Yes, it is time to return to life as we knew it, but not without also guarding against the lingering risks of a pandemic that is not yet over.
And this is where we report. And it all comes down to the cynicism of the GOP politicians who first politicized the pandemic and have since made Covid their favorite workhorse, whipping it for their favorite political ends. Vaccination rates remain woefully low. While 67% of Americans received two doses of the vaccine, only 32% received a booster. The strongest predictor of vaccination is political ideology. Never mind the irony of shouting about bodily autonomy when it comes to a vaccine while praising the Supreme Court’s destruction of Roe vs. Wade.
It’s one thing to choose not to get vaccinated (which, by the way, not a single national GOP politician has done, as far as we know). It’s worse to stoke the fears of your political base and deter them from getting vaccinated. And it’s even worse to prevent Americans of all stripes from getting the resources they need to fight the pandemic. To that end, Biden asked for an additional $22.5 billion in March to fund everything from tests to vaccines to Paxlovid treatments — the money we would need to learn to “live with” the virus. So far, that funding has stalled in the face of opposition from GOP lawmakers. Even though vaccine makers plan to deploy omicron-specific boosters and test BA.5-specific versions, funding for it is waning, which may leave us without money to supply these critical new vaccines when they are available. available.