With pandemic point man Anthony Fauci threatening to cancel New Year’s Eve and jab the unvaxxed as they board a flight, it’s no wonder it’s so hard for the public to find sensible middle ground in our ongoing bout with COVID.
And even if we’re exaggerating a bit — in fairness, Fauci only urged people to stay home this Friday, and as of Tuesday, he was calling back his suggestion hours earlier that vaccinations be mandated for air travel — the point is the same. A steady stream of doomsaying, scolding and restricting inevitably will evoke an equal and opposite (over)reaction.
Some people are simply losing it. Hence, the ugly incident on a flight from Tampa, Fla., to Atlanta the other day in which an unmasked, ex-TV starlet traded insults with another passenger and then slapped him, apparently, because he also was unmasked.
A lot more people are losing perspective. That fact is, for most Americans — particularly those who have been vaccinated — the data strongly suggests life is a lot less risky than it was a year ago even as the pandemic meanders onward. That’s certainly true in Colorado.
A Gazette report this week noting the spike in COVID cases around Christmas — inevitable amid holiday gatherings and the arrival of the latest variant of the virus — also noted hospitalizations had been declining for weeks. Meaning, at least for the time being, our state’s health care infrastructure was able to take a much-needed breather before bracing for a likely wave of omicron-induced hospitalizations.
More significant for the vaccinated majority of Coloradans is that their chances of being hospitalized or even suffering more pronounced symptoms are vastly lower than for those who aren’t yet vaccinated. In recent weeks, nearly 8 of 10 hospitalizations around the state have been of people who were not vaccinated.
The University of Colorado hospital network offered this telling overview in a post on its website Tuesday:
“Across Colorado, about 80% of adults are now vaccinated against COVID-19. Inside our hospitals, we’re seeing that the other 20% who are unvaccinated are making up the vast majority of our patients with COVID-19. As the charts below show, about 85% of our patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and nearly 93% of our COVID-19 patients ventilated in ICUs are unvaccinated. Of our hospitalized patients who were vaccinated at the time of admission, many are immunocompromised.”
The benefits of vaccination would seem pretty clear.
Meanwhile, the latest data on the new omicron variant of COVID continues to reassure. Notably, its impact on the human body isn’t as severe as previous iterations of the virus. And because it is spreading quickly, it is likely to peak briefly. As USA Today succinctly put it in a report Tuesday:
“Two pieces of good news about omicron to take into the new year: It may not be around for long, and people who are fully vaccinated don’t need to worry, as long as they have a healthy immune system.”
In other words, be cautious, but especially if you’re vaccinated, don’t worry too much and enjoy the holidays.
And take Fauci’s hand-wringing in stride; he’ll probably change his mind by tomorrow anyway.
The Gazette Editorial Board