Even though many Wisconsinites are behaving as though the COVID threat is over, we are still not out of the woods, and that is complicating decisions about how to behave.
Friday night fish fries are jammed with patrons not wearing masks even though the restaurant workers are fully masked.
Businesses with significant employment levels have the toughest decisions to make because they are in the cross hairs of two major threats – the continuing COVID presence and the excruciating labor shortages. Many companies still require masks inside their facilities, and they would love to mandate vaccinations. A work force with 100% vaccination would allow the elimination of masks and contribute to the desired state of “herd immunity.”
But while employers can get away with mandating masks, they can’t mandate vaccinations, because some people would simply quit. There are jobs available just down the street, and companies need every worker they can get.
Help wanted signs are all over Wisconsin. Unemployment rates are at their pre-pandemic loads. Employers can’t afford to fire anyone.
Still, mandate or not, it makes no sense that workers won’t step up for a shot and help move toward herd immunity for their community and the good of their country. Right wing dogma insists on individual rights, but what about a civic obligation to get a shot and help achieve herd immunity so we can all go about our personal lives without restrictions?
In effect, the anti-vaxxers are freeloaders. They are riding on the backs of the majority of the people who get their vaccinations and thereby make everybody around them more safe.
It’s just too bad that the politics of the day put individual liberty and indulgences ahead of obligations to our fellow Americans. It’s a fake kind of patriotism that says, “I’ll do what’s good for me, and to hell with my fellow man.”
They are like draft dodgers in days of national military crisis. We are in another form of national crisis. It does not involve weapons and killing combatants, but it is a war against an insidious infection that will take more lives than all the battles this country has ever faced.
Public health care doctors have recently come to the conclusion that we will not get to herd immunity in the United States. Not enough people will become immune through vaccination or having had COVID-19 and thus becoming unavailable as hosts for spreading the disease. That is a very grim conclusion.
In short, because of the anti-vaccination mentality of a big minority of our citizens, COVID-19 will remain at a dangerous level. There will periodic outbreaks in hotspots across the nation.
We can only hope that a growing percentage of people with the vaccination will outpace the growth of the new variants of the virus.
What’s the answer? We all have to keep working to convince the laggards that they are doing great harm to our community and country, that they need to put their personal preferences aside and help form a big majority of immunized people.
Everyone who does or doesn’t get a shot matters. We are truly in this together.