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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Rhode Island COVID outlook looks grim

Several hundred more deaths if McKee does nothing

By Will Collette

The most important good news about the COVID-19 pandemic is that we have safe, effective and free vaccines that are remarkably effective at preventing infection, serious illness and, most important of all, death. 

The majority of Rhode Islanders have been vaccinated.

You even get a free card showing you have gotten the shots. 

As Delta variant infections rise, you can use that card to get into venues that require them.

The bad news that there are people who would rather spend up to $1,500 to buy a counterfeit vaccine card, rather than get the shots and the card for free. 

Some are buying out stocks of veterinary drugs like horse de-wormer ivermectin - $80 or more per 20 tablets, if you can get it.

And if you can get yourself some ivermectin, you might also get yourself a trip to the emergency room – already crowded with COVID cases among other unvaccinated fools or an embarrassing moment in Wal-Mart when one of ivermectin’s side effects, uncontrollable diarrhea, kicks in.

Current fad treatment for Trumplicans
Ivermectin joins bleach and hydroxychloroquine as dangerous fake COVID remedies being pushed by Trumplicans, right-wing media and nuts on social media rather than simple, safe and effective vaccines.

What a world! So we are now experiencing another surge rivalling last winter’s horror show. Nearly a thousand people are dying each and every day.

 They do not have to die if we would all just get the shots, wear masks and stop acting like Covidiots.

While much of the madness is concentrated in the Deep South and Midwestern Red states, we have our fair share in Rhode Island. 

Just under 200,000 Rhode Islanders have still not gotten their shots. Our chicken shit Gov. Dan McKee still doesn’t have the guts to order actions to lower our high rate of infection from its current 182.7 per 100,000 back to 12 per 100,000 where it was on the Fourth of July.

Dan McKee looking for a fight
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington projects that by December 1, if nothing changes, Rhode Island’s death toll will rise to 3,135 from its current 2,765. That’s 360 deaths.

If our accidental Governor would use his emergency powers to direct universal masking, the IHME projected death toll would drop to 2,892 or about two-thirds less deaths than simply maintaining the status quo.

It is NOT enough for McKee to belatedly and reluctantly mandate masks in schools and state buildings. It's not acceptable that he resisted, kicking and screaming, demands that he do more.

McKee has finally ordered all health care workers to be fully vaccinated by October 1. But he should have done that months ago. In my opinion, any health care worker who fails to take a life-saving vaccine has forfeited the right to be a health care worker.

McKee could and should mandate that all public employees be vaccinated. It’s good that he’s encouraging private businesses to mandate vaccination (many are doing that on their own), but the state should lead by example.

Let’s talk about rights

The COVID-19 pandemic became a political football almost immediately after it began to spread in the United States. 

Donald Trump led the chorus of those who wanted to blame China, pretend it was no big deal – no worse than the flu, was going to go away quickly and could be defeated by a variety of unproven remedies. Don’t trust scientists, doctors, the CDC, Dr. Fauci, public health experts but do trust Trump and Fox News.

Locally, we have state Reps. Blake “Flip” Filippi and Justin Price as well as Sen. Elaine Morgan variously condemning masks, vaccine mandates, science and common sense. 

Flip and his unmasked Trumplican cohorts
Flip is outraged that McKee continues to renew the pandemic emergency declaration and wants a full debate in the General Assembly so his Trumplican yahoos can showcase their ignorance.

Flip, who fancies himself as a Constitutional scholar, thinks his positions are grounded in well-established legal principles.

Except he’s wrong.

From Biblical times to the present, society has consistently reserved the right to defend itself from infectious diseases.

Look to numerous references in the Bible to leprosy (called Hansen’s disease today). Society called for lepers to be isolated and kept at a distance, the first recorded instances of mandated social distancing.

The word “quarantine” comes to us from Venice, where the first known legislation was passed in 1377 requiring the isolation of people believed to be infected with bubonic plague (a.k.a. “The Black Death”). The required isolation time eventually became 40 days or, in Italian, “quarantina.”

As we learned more about infectious diseases, the more public health measures took precedence over individual rights.

When we discovered treatments for infectious diseases, such as vaccines and medications, new arguments arose over whether society could mandate such treatments over the objections of individuals. Society’s right to self-preservation won every time.

For example, after effective treatments emerged for tuberculosis, isolation was no longer necessary, provided of course, the TB patient was treated. And of course, like today, some of those patients refused, leading to this approach:

“Some jurisdictions have resolved this tension through compromise: TB patients cannot be forced to undergo treatment, but they may be isolated or detained if they refuse treatment.”

One famous disease carrier, the infamous “Typhoid Mary” Mallon, was the first person in the US identified as an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid. She worked as a cook and infected at least 53 people, three of whom died.

When she refused to stop working as a cook, she was involuntarily quarantined for a total of 30 years, including the last 20 years before she died in 1938.

In 1905, the US Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that there was no Constitutional right to refuse to be vaccinated against smallpox, saying:

"Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own (liberty), whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others."

I'm skipping over the 1918-9 Spanish Flu epidemic because we're already run articles like THIS ONE

In numerous court decisions, judges have ruled that society has the right to prevent individuals from engaging in behavior that endangers others.

One of the clearest statements came from Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson in the 1949 Terminiello v. Chicago decision where he stated:

“The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrine logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”

There is a growing chorus of voices who believe that mask and vaccine mandates simply do not go far enough or that, at minimum, such mandates must have teeth.

For example, if nursing home or other health care workers refuse to get vaccinated, they should forfeit their jobs.

Unvaccinated persons should pay higher insurance premiums; insurers can use the well-established practice of setting costs based on whether covered individuals engage in unhealthy behavior such as smoking.

In fact, we can learn a lot from public health measures that are in place to keep smokers away from non-smokers.

Finally, with hospitals in many areas overflowing with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, people who need urgent treatment for other things – accidents, heart attacks, stroke, etc. – often find they can’t get the care they need because of Covidiots.

Hospitals should begin to triage critical care patients to stop penalizing those who need urgent treatment through no fault of their own. Unvaccinated adult COVID patients should be at the bottom of the priority list for hospital beds, especially ICU beds.

They refused or dawdled in getting vaccinated – that’s on them. No one else should pay the price for their bad decisions.