This Didn’t Have to Happen

by Joe Fitzgerald

A year ago, the post-Thanksgiving surge was still raging, but there was hope in the imminent availability of vaccines. But 2021 would be the year of criminals who stormed the Capitol because they didn’t understand democracy and of their intellectual brethren who didn’t understand science or medicine.

Virginia set a record today for statewide number of new cases. That’s the third day in a row the number has been a record (12,112 Wednesday, 13,500 yesterday, 17,618 today.) Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro have seen a total of more than 20,000 cases as of today, and Harrisonburg-Rockingham will pass that milestone over the weekend.

The largest strain is on the health-care system. Hospitals are all but closed to all but the most serious illnesses and injuries. Nurses face not only the crush of cases, but the fact that those getting most seriously ill are the most stubborn in their denial about COVID. Those people don’t know enough science to get them to the first mid-terms of nursing school, but anecdotally many of them are abusive and sometimes violent in their resistance to COVID facts.
One post told of the man who refused a life-extending intubation because he didn’t believe in COVID. He left the hospital against medical advice and collapsed on the way to his car. Health care workers had to take time away from other patients to bring him back into the ER, where he died soon after.
He should have parked closer.

Those still spreading the disease could point to Delta being more severe and more contagious, and to Omicron creating more breakthrough cases. They’d be wrong. This isn’t breakthroughs infecting breakthroughs. It’s people keeping the pandemic alive until the next mutation by refusing masks, vaccines, and other precautions. Their sense of medicine and epidemiology is as great as the business sense of those who watched “The Apprentice” with slack-jawed reverence.

Much as we bitch and moan about crooked politicians, arrogant doctors, and marginally accurate journalists, some modicum of trust in institutions has always been a bedrock of this nation. If that trust finally collapses for good in the potentially horrible month in front of us, try to remember who got us here and who enabled them. Forgive if you must the malicious, malignant ignorance of some of our neighbors, but don’t forget what they’ve wrought and who’s encouraged them.

Judge them.

This column has been republished with permission from Still not Sleeping.