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Biden's aggressive pandemic plan appropriate, should be supported

Of the many shocking statistics about how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been in the United States, the one that came this past week was perhaps the most revealing. With the nation's covid death toll approaching 667,000, roughly 1 in every 500 Americans has succumbed to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

You would think that death toll would unite Americans in doing all that could be done to get the viral outbreak under control. But, of course, such is not the case. While 175 million Americans are fully vaccinated, 80 million people eligible for vaccination have not even received a first shot, 31% of the eligible population.

Widespread opposition also continues to mask mandates in indoor public spaces, even though the evidence has shown the delta variant is more easily transmitted, is leading to greater hospitalizations, and is making more younger people sicker than earlier manifestations of the virus. The vaccines are highly protective against serious illness and death due to the variant, but the vaccinated can still get mild cases and spread the virus, which is of particular concern to the unvaccinated. This is why mask-wearing in the right circumstances makes sense and why it is maddening that it is met with so much resistance.

If the mega story of what this disease has done won’t convince the vaccine refuseniks, maybe some micro stories will. Such as the case of Samantha Wendell, 29, the Kentucky woman who died recently after becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

Wendell was reluctant to get vaccinated because of unsubstantiated speculation that it caused infertility. Such claims about affects on fertility have been disproved and dismissed by reproductive health experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

According to news accounts, Wendell was persuaded by the delta variant to get vaccinated, but before doing so became seriously ill with covid. On what would have been the day of her August wedding, she was on a ventilator. On Sept. 10 the family made the decision to disconnect life support equipment. Her funeral took place in the church where she was to be married.

Or the story of Lisa Wilson of Palm Beach County, Fla., who as an aide to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay worked on efforts to get the reluctant vaccinated, particularly in the Black community. Yet, in a three-week span, six members of her extended family died of complications caused by the virus.

"If my family was vaccinated, they would be here today. They were just scared. Everything was new, and they were just scared," she told reporters.

It is against this backdrop of vaccination reluctance and outright opposition that President Biden issued a series of executive orders to try to increase inoculations and find a "Path out of the Pademic."

They mandate that all employers with a workforce of 100 or more must require the vaccination of their workers or frequent testing. Any workers who remain unvaccinated must produce a negative test result at least weekly.

The president is also requiring vaccinations for federal workers, for millions of federal contractors, and for over 17 million health care workers. The president’s plan further instructs entertainment venues like sports arenas and large concert halls where large groups of people gather to require that their patrons be vaccinated or show a negative test for entry.

This is the kind of bold action we felt necessary when we stated in an Aug. 4 editorial that “the nation has to be on the equivalent of a war footing to defeat this virus.”

It is too bad the country could not have unified in combatting this common enemy without such orders being necessary. Even now, many Republican leaders threaten legal action to block the orders when their energy would be better spent supporting the president’s efforts to push past the pandemic.

Those Republicans again find themselves out of step with the American people. An Axios-Ipsos poll, taken from Sept. 10-13, found that 60% — three in five Americans — support the federal government mandating coronavirus vaccinations for its employees and for workers at larger companies.

The people want to win this war.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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