Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at COVID-19 Threat Level RED (SEVERE) as the infection and hospitalization numbers are expected to worsen.
According to the threat level system, “severe” is enacted when there is a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19, outbreaks are present and worsening and testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded.
Some hospital emergency rooms are indeed operating at full capacity amid the surgent and rampant spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.
It seems that those targeted by this threat level change are the unvaccinated since most cases of new infections are indeed from the unvaccinated. It calls for the unvaccinated to stay home. Seriously? But the threat does remain for the vaccinated.
“Breakthrough cases” among those who have been fully vaccinated are inevitable, especially among those without strong immune responses, Shuford said. “We know that no vaccine is perfect. They never will be.”
As I stated earlier, half of the country lives with illness, comorbidities, and/or are immunocompromised. There’s a reason why some of us were spending hours on our laptops trying to get a vaccine as soon as possible. I wish those in power would stop downplaying breakthrough cases and instead promote safety for all. Judge Hidalgo spoke to this reality that infection and spread can happen to the vaccinated, but simply targeting the unvaccinated is not enough. Hands must be held, or we are just doing a different brand of Greg Abbott’s “personal responsibility.”
While we are seeing more vaccination activity, the reality is that some are on their first shot, or on their only J&J shot and will take a couple of weeks to over a month (if 2 shots are taken) or so to reach their immune potential. I agree with the experts, like Dr. Hotez, that we need a vaccine mandate more than anything, but thanks to Greg Abbott’s “freedumb” campaign, it is not going to happen. Obviously, we need something that includes masks and other safety alternatives while the vaccinations happen.
Thankfully, Judge Hidalgo has also shown leadership in asking people to wear masks when indoors and around others, and that includes the vaccinated. At this moment, while we wait for people to reach their immune potential, masks are just about the only way to cut transmission–even a little. Either that, or stay home. For the most part, I intend to do the latter, even contemplating cancelling a vacation that I really need.
I won’t sugar coat how I feel. I’m really pissed off.
As the vaccinations were rolling out early on, I cringed at all of these vaccinated leaders appearing at events unmasked when we had not even reached 50% vaccination. Local self-proclaimed “leader” groups who claim to represent underrepresented people were hosting large events, unmasked, without even a clue as to an event’s vaccination rate when it is the underrepresented who are the least vaccinated! The White House also failed at incentivizing vaccination by unmasking the vaccinated to entice anti-vaxxers toward a shot. Hope springs eternal, but we were nowhere near a post-COVID reality.
The reality is that the unmasking of the vaccinated was too damn soon and incentivized behavior that only weeks before was considered bad or a threat to public safety. It didn’t help that businesses were opened up by Greg Abbott in the same manner with little vaccination effort on his part. You cannot declare victory when it’s not even half-time and this certainly didn’t encourage businesses to re-open slowly as everything seems to be a super-spreader, now.
As far as some of these self-proclaimed “leaders” are concerned, don’t call yourself one if you’re not willing to lead by example. And these leader failures are happening in organizations, school districts, universities, corporations, you name it. No one is willing to take a stand against Greg Abbott and right-wing republicans and for the people they are serving. And most are not leading by example when it comes to at the very least promoting and encouraging mask-wearing and vaccination. We aren’t talking shut-down, we are talking public safety.
Mayor Turner’s employee mask mandate and HISD Superintendent House’s move toward one for students have potential to spread leadership potential to others. Leaders must stand up to Greg Abbott.
The only way these recent and future vaccinations will work in the near future is if people lead today.