In only a few days, the number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic will reach 400,000. More people have already died as a result of coronavirus than in any other pandemic in The United States, with the only exception being the ghastly 1918 influenza pandemic.
As I mark the grin milestones, I often hear “Yeah but, “Where are the flu numbers?” It’s been widely reported that because of masking, hand washing, and social distancing, the flu numbers are down significantly this year.
I’m waiting for my place in line, waiting on some semblance of protection from disease for the second time in my life. When I was a little boy, there was a girl who lived a couple of blocks away from my home on Ashland Avenue in Burlington. She could only walk with large leg braces and those crutches that had handles and metal bands for her arms. She was a survivor of polio. Other children who were ravaged by the disease could only survive in what was called an “iron lung”… only their neck and head sticking out of a machine that allowed them to live. Others died. Even though parents spoke about polio in hushed voices, we knew the score. Nobody knew of a way to prevent polio.
Then, the vaccines came. There were injections, and doses placed on sugar cubes. They were called the Salk, and the Sabin vaccines. And my parents made certain I was vaccinated pronto. The PTA organized vaccination clinics for the entire community at public schools. Doctors offices also had the vaccine.
There were lines, but not the thousand-car queues we are now experiencing. Announcement of available vaccine results in the website registration to open and close inside a half-hour. Recently, Knox County Health Department had to turn many people away from a vaccination site. They ran out of vaccine.
Rewind a few weeks, and note that the Administration’s goal was 21 million vaccinations by 2021. It was called Operation Warp Speed. That name will likely be derided in history as a cruel joke. HHS Secretary Azar told a reporter today the reason the number of vaccinations fell abysmally short of the goal, was the late delivery of the vaccine. That might be part of it, but I believe the largest part of the problem is the hodgepodge fruit salad of state policies on who is vaccinated when, and how.
We can only hope for a course correction when the Biden Administration takes over the fight against covid-19. But I don’t hold a lot of hope for a major improvement anytime soon. That’s because we learned this weekend that the government is out of vaccine. There are no reserve doses. It’s like needing an overcoat right now, only to find the wool used to make the coat is on back order.
Operation Warp Speed developed a covid vaccine in an unheard of short amount of time. I believe bureaucratic blundering and disorganization in the distribution chain led to expectations that could never be met. I don’t believe many of us ever thought we would reach a time where family members would drop off loved ones at the emergency room door, and have to leave them…alone…and sometimes to die.
So now, we wait on our turn. And me mourn those who could not survive the virus and its myriad complications. This time, it’s not the schoolgirl down the street, it’s the 65 plus neighbor who might be fighting for her life, on a ventilator, and away from any family contact.
You might have heard my story before, that I spent five days on a ventilator, suffering from acute respiratory failure following surgery, and as a result… had several years dealing with the way it left my lungs…and my mind.
There’s no doubt that the virus has its origins in China. How it got to The United States is a question for another day. Right now, I should be sufficient to worry about how governors, mayors, and health administrators deal with vaccinations in an orderly manner. Hospitals are doing what they can. Meanwhile, please wear a mask, (I often wear two masks, a cloth mask over my trusty N-95, keep your hands washed, and limit where you go.
My wife and I are relatively hermits. I pray to be spared from covid, and ask God to protect me and my family, and to heal others. I believe God can heal in an instant, and He also gave me the reasoning power to protect myself as much as I can.
The heartbreaking stories seem never-ending. I hope you’re working hard to keep from adding to the manuscript of this pandemic.