James McMurtry: Traffic Jam
In the past week, I have driven past the immediate aftermaths of two horrible car wrecks.
The first was a single car roll over with no apparent survivors. On a dirt road that led off a two lane highway in North Texas, a small crunched up four door sedan was sitting on its wheels with all the glass broken, all four doors open wide, no visible air bags, one visible body. The highway patrolman was sitting in his car on the shoulder of the highway, lights flashing, waiting for the M.E.
The second was on the side of a freeway in a major Texas city, several crunched up cars, numerous survivors, some injured, some not. One was on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics and family members, I’m guessing. I wondered if that person ended the day in a hospital bed or parked in a hallway in pain, the beds having all been taken up by unvaccinated Covid patients. Was there enough staff to minister to that person?
I have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, lots of old guy stuff, and I have to drive a lot. I’m not authorized to have a heart attack or a car wreck here in Texas right now, neither are you. Our medical professionals are as talented as ever, but they are swamped. Many are leaving the profession, burned out. Governor Abbott has asked for out of state medical personnel to be sent in to deal with the surge that he exacerbates with his refusal to allow mask mandates, while he rails about border security. The immigrants should flout him and mask up, so as not to catch Covid from the Texans. Abbott is in a political bind. If he even wanted to help, he couldn’t, because were he to exercise common sense and impose mask mandates and promote vaccination, he would be labeled a RINO and instantly voted out. Republicans have only one path now, they must each prove his or herself to be the meanest Republican in the room.
Many people don’t trust the vaccines, thinking the process was too fast. But the techniques used to find those vaccines were decades in the making. The human genome is now mapped.Computer technology has improved dramatically. Years of research on combatting other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS led to techniques for identifying and attacking the spike proteins that let a virus invade a cell. We never found a vaccine for HIV, but we learned a lot about virology in the forty year hunt for it, and we did find treatments.
Too fast or not, the vaccines work well enough to keep the vaccinated out of the hospital. It’s the unvaccinated who are breaking our healthcare system. Why do they get to do this? Is a proudly unvaccinated American Covid victim somehow closer to God than a vaccinated heart attack or car wreck victim? Why do they get to break our health care system in the name of personal freedom?
There are stupid and reckless personal freedoms one can excersize, that don’t have the potential to affect the rest of humanity. If you ride a street bike with no helmet, you’ll probably just kill yourself if you wipe out on pavement. If you don’t get vaccinated, however, you offer yourself up as a host for the virus, a host through which it can be transmitted to other hosts, giving it a greater chance of mutating into something the vaccines can’t handle, killing lots of people and undermining the work of scientists who are trying to save humanity. In other words, if you don’t get vaccinated, you are working FOR the virus and against humankind.
Victims of bad car wrecks, which happen all the time, need to go to the hospital and have ample staff and beds available when they get there. Victims of Covid, do not usually need to go to the hospital, unless they are not vaccinated.
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See previous column entries in the series by James McMurtry, here: Wasteland Bait & Tackle