I’m pretty sure that you already know the answer to the headline question – COVID is not over; we’re just pretending that it is. But why?, you might wonder if the facts suggest otherwise. For a small glut of reasons no doubt. It’s true that people are certainly sick of worrying about getting sick with the damned seemingly irrepressible virus. It’s true that we’re nowhere near the crisis levels we were in 2020 and much of 2022, signifying great “progress,” right? It’s also surely true that vaccines and treatments have taken a big slice of the sting out of coming down with the more recent mutations of the bug.
But the notion that we’re done with COVID is wishful, if not downright magical, thinking. The data are pretty clear, and, frankly, pretty scary. COVID-19 remains a leading cause of the death in the US, with more than 400 deaths each day during the summer. We, this ever-so “exceptional” United States, still tops the industrialized nations in per capita viral mortality and “excess” deaths – the key factor driving a significant drop in American life expectancy.
Even when the most important numbers look encouraging – hospitalizations down, deaths declining – not only are we still in the dark about the eventual impact of “long COVID,” universally acknowledged as a real phenomenon debilitating millions who have suffered through one or bouts of the disease, but every epidemiologist will tell you unequivocally that the virus never quits evolving, and that it’s not only possible, but indeed probable, that some some new variants will prove adept at evading our best defenses of vaccines and post-infection treatments. What then?
The distressingly sad truth is that Pres. Biden, facing a recalcitrant Congress, a business “community” that first and foremost wants workers on the job producing value, a media that by and large cheerleads for “normalcy” and “learning to live with the virus,” and a maleficent MAGA movement that discounts both COVID and “tyrannical” public health measures to contain it, this president simply wants to declare “victory” over the virus and pray that the declaration (along with revulsion for the Supreme Court’s ditching of Roe v. Wade rights), will carry his party to gains in the upcoming midterm elections.
Good luck with that, Joe. It’s not only the midterms that are on the way. So is winter, and with it the very real possibility (some medical experts say likelihood) of a major new surge in COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.