This may be my last blog of the year. I’m travelling this weekend to visit family and, usually, not much happens between Christmas and New Year’s Day. That doesn’t mean I won’t get a bee in my bonnet and have to put something down on paper, but I also might take the week off. 

So, I hope everyone has a safe and happy few days. I want everyone to get vaccinated. Despite the dire warnings about omicron, we’re on the verge of getting back to some level of normalcy. We’ll get there if everyone takes precautions. 

If you’re going to visit at-risk friends or family, make sure they are vaccinated and test yourself first. The pandemic is really one of the elderly, immunocompromised, and unvaccinated. WRAL has a headline that reads, “100% of Duke Health patients in ICU or on life-saving treatment are unvaccinated, hospital cases rising.” The  Massachusetts Department of Public Health declares, “Breakthrough case review finds 97% of COVID-19 cases in vaccinated individuals don’t result in severe illness.” In Los Angeles, as of November 15, out of 26,872 deaths only 396 were people fully vaccinated. In other words, vaccines are the answer to the pandemic. Period. 

The biggest threat to our nation heading into 2022 and beyond is not a virus. It’s the disinformation and misinformation campaigns meant to dupe people who lack the critical thinking skills to make good decisions. That’s a real crisis. 

The victims are people who can be so misled that they die from preventable illness and attack our democracy based on thinly sourced lies and distortions. The rest of us are collateral damage. Their ignorance hurts all of us. 

The villains in this saga are the commentators and politicians who exploit the victims for political or financial gain. They are callous people who care only about themselves. They’ve taken Randian individualism to its extreme to justify their dangerous and destructive behavior. They care little for society or community, wrapping in the flag or hanging on the cross their bastardization of the concepts of freedom and liberty. 

In 2022, our fight should be to regain the trust of the victims of grifters, con artists and would-be authoritarians. We should fight disinformation with truth, making easily digestible information widely available. And we should tone down the hysteria of some on the left who believe government regulations and control are the answer to the pandemic. 

While we need precautions, we also need to recognize the true threats and the real culprits. We should reduce mask mandates, particularly in schools for younger children. As The Atlantic notes, our reasoning for mask mandates in schools is flawed and conflicts with recommendations from other health organizations. “The World Health Organization, for example, does not recommend masks for children under age 6. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommends against the use of masks for any children in primary school.” The risk of serious illness or death for people under 17 is about the same as the flu. While masking students may make some people feel better, there’s little evidence that such measures make much difference in either the spread or the threat to our children. Let’s put the kids first.

Stop tracking the spread of the virus in terms of cases and focus on hospitalizations and deaths. Overwhelming our medical personnel is the problem. Release vaccination status with all data. Let people see that the threat to unvaccinated people is far greater than vaccinated. Everyone might get sick, but unvaccinated people are primarily the ones dying. 

Make protecting our democracy the legislative priority instead of progressive social programs. Even if Democrats passed some transformative package, it would be undone quickly if the GOP solidifies its attempts at minority control. In the wake of January 6 and the Big Lie, voting rights should always have been the top priority of Democrats. 

Finally, enjoy some down time for the next week. We’ve had a stressful two years. Regroup and recharge. We still have a lot to tackle but the end of the pandemic is in sight. We might have to think about it a little bit differently and understand how to bring skeptics along with us. If we can do that, we might also convince them to leave our democracy alone. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

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