Sunday, May 23, 2021

Taking a pandemic breather to review.

geralt | Pixabay
It sounds like most folks had the same reaction I did to the CDC's recent declaration that anyone who's fully vaccinated can (mostly) stop wearing masks in public: Eh, not so fast. We're now at the point where either you throw caution completely to the winds and go without, or wear one anyway and risk those you meet thinking you're either: a) an anti-vaxxer or b) a Republican. I feel like I need to get a t-shirt that says, "I'm fully vaccinated but I have trust issues about everybody else."

I'd get a button, but I don't think all that would fit. Or at least not in a big enough font to be readable from six feet away.

Anyway, it appears that in the US, at least, as vaccination rates go up, the number of COVID-19 cases is going down, and the death rate attributed to the virus is going down, too. I don't want to jinx things by speaking too soon, but we may be emerging from the woods.

Regardless of how soon our lives can safely go back to normal, this seems like a good time to sit back, take a deep breath (masked or un-, your choice), and see whether we've learned anything from the past fourteen months. Robert Reich, who was Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, wrote a Facebook post earlier today that's a pretty good summary of the economic lessons learned due to the virus. While I agree with his list, I decided to come up with my own. There's some overlap, but I think he missed a couple of things.

1. How nice was it to show up, get your government-provided vaccine, and not have to pay a penny for it? Nobody asked for your insurance information. Nobody asked you for a co-pay. You didn't even have to contact the vaccine administrators to find out whether they were in-network or out-of-network. You just showed up, got the shot, and went on your way, right? Now think about how wonderful it would be if all health care in America was offered the same way. It can be -- if we would just institute universal health care. We're the only major nation that doesn't have it. It's beyond ridiculous. We need to do whatever it takes to get this done.

2. We need to continue to appreciate our essential workers -- and by "essential workers," I mean all the people who had to show up for work during the pandemic while the rest of us stayed safely at home: the health care providers, the delivery drivers, the warehouse workers, the grocery store clerks, the cashiers at stores deemed essential businesses, and the teachers who had to go back to in-person instruction not knowing for sure whether it was safe. Other than teachers and health care workers, most of these folks don't have job security -- they're typically not full-time employees and they receive minimal, if any, benefits from their employers. We need to fix that. At least give everybody free health care (see point 1).

3. I have zero patience for people who made a buck off of others during this trying time. I don't mean just the idiots who bought up all the hand sanitizer and wipes at the start of the pandemic and then tried to sell them for a premium -- although they're on my list. Nope, I'm also including the billionaires who have increased their wealth by more than $1.6 billion over the course of the past year and change. In many cases, their gain has come at the expense of their employees, many of whom are considered essential workers. Economic inequality was already off the charts in this country before the pandemic, and now it's worse. There's no excuse for that. 

4. As for the employers who tried to roll back hazard pay for their essential workers after a couple of months? Hello, the pandemic is still happening -- they still deserve that extra pay. And if you can't get people to come to work for you now? Maybe don't be so chintzy with your pay and benefits, and treat your employees like they're human beings and not interchangeable cogs.

5. When it comes to those who've been working remotely for the past year, now that they've had a taste of the good life, employers are going to have a hard time convincing them to go back to the office full-time. It was gospel at my old law firm that secretaries would never be able to work from home. Our job duties simply wouldn't allow it. Well, here we are, fourteen months into the pandemic in which everybody's been working remotely -- including secretaries at my old law firm. Not everybody thrives in the office fishbowl. Employers need to be flexible when it comes to bringing people back into the office.

6. I admit I wasn't nuts about the idea of having to wear a mask when it first came up. But when it became apparent that either I needed to mask up or hermetically seal myself in my apartment to avoid getting the virus, I got on board. But some people have been absolutely desperate to avoid reality, to the point where they have convinced themselves that masks are useless and the vaccine is dangerous. I'm all about "live and let live," as long as people's choices don't impact me. This does. If you're not going to get the vaccine, wear a mask. If you won't wear a mask, get vaccinated. And for gods' sake, don't lie about having gotten the vaccine so you don't have to wear a mask. 

7. The January 6th insurrection happened. It was not a "normal tourist visit." It seems logical to assume that anyone who objects to an investigation into what happened that day, including a thorough probe of who was behind it, probably has something to hide. 

Okay, that last point doesn't have much of anything to do with the pandemic. I'm leaving it on the list anyway. After all, this is just a draft. I'll come back to it once the virus has well and truly ridden off into the sunset.


Speaking of lists: How's your progress on our summer reading list? I'm not nagging, I swear.

In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, here's a link to the list and info on the contest. That's right! Prizes! Now go forth and read!


These moments of bloggy listicle creation have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaccinated and good luck!

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