Recently I got off a bus from New England at the Port Authority in New York City. According to the employee at the information desk there are now only two ways to get to the upper level to access the street and subway, a very long flight of stairs or an elevator. A sign is posted that says: Due to COVID only 5 people allowed in elevator. A passenger was making sure the sign was obeyed. She took herself and her task very seriously. Thing is, a quick eye-ball shows the car to be about five feet wide by seven feet deep. No way can five people be in a space that size and maintain six feet of space between them, with or without luggage, and everyone had luggage. To comply, the car would have had to have been 12 feet by 12 feet, with one person in each corner and one in the middle.
The elevator in my apartment building is about four feet by four feet. When the six-feet-apart rule took effect, tenants intuitively followed common sense and voluntarily began using the car one at a time. A week or so later signs from the landlord went up, in English and Spanish, which read: Due to Covid-19 only 3 people permitted on elevator. When I first saw the sign, I was with two other tenants. We read it and obediently stepped on the elevator together. Around the 2nd floor we all looked at each other and came to the same conclusion: There’s no way three, or even two people can be on board a 4’ by 4’ elevator car and still be six feet apart. So we recaptured our common sense and went back to individual rides. A week or so later a new sign went up, in English and Spanish, instructing us that only one person was allowed in the car at a time. I don’t mean to disparage the building owner. I’ve lived here a long time and believe me we’ve had some real creepy landlords; by comparison this one is okay. But the owner is also a huge corporation and probably took the mean average dimensions of all its elevators and came up with the original number. And the mistake was corrected. But our own common sense had the right approach first.
There’s a new sign on the door of the FedEx Office store, formerly Kinko’s, at the end of my block. It reads: Due to mandate, masks are required for unvaccinated people (Unless Medically Prevented). Does the virus know the difference between those who are unvaccinated for a “good” reason, like pre-existing blood clot issues, and those who refuse the vaccine because of other concerns? In society at large only those who are labeled disobedient for being hesitant about getting vaccinated are being subjected to segregation. Is “science” being followed, or something else?
The usual process for putting a new drug on the market breaks down to about two years for research and six years of testing. The Covid vaccines were developed in only two weeks, but they had a big head start because of previous research and it was an “all hands on deck” Warp Speed project. So that makes sense. However, it was tested for only ten and a half months before being given to the public. By now many, many millions have taken the shot, but the usual testing period was waived. It’s not just what happens in the first week or two that matters, it’s also how people react two, three, five years down the road, hence six years of monitoring. But it was an emergency situation, there wasn’t time to use the usual standards. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I get that. What I don’t get is an initial inoculation goal being set at 65 percent of the population, and then Anthony Fauci pushing for 85 percent, and now there’s a drive for 90 percent. Because more is better? Any doctor worth his salt will tell you there’s no such thing as a completely safe surgery or a completely benign medication, and if 65 percent is adequate, why go higher? How is it good public health policy, or smart national security policy, to give every man, woman, and child in the country a new drug all at the same time? And no, that wasn’t done with the polio vaccine. Only children were vaccinated, even though adults can catch it from children. Health policy, national security—you don’t need a medical degree or to have graduated from the War College at West Point to appreciate the simple wisdom of Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket.
Once again we are becoming a nation of two sides snarling at each other. Now it’s not Hillary-ites against Trumpers, it’s the vaccinated against the unvaccinated, yet there doesn’t seem to be a clear political divide even though the media is working hard to present it that way. What if they had stayed with the original 65 percent goal, then told folks that, in the interests of national security, once that objective had been reached the noble thing to do would be to forgo the vaccine so that we wouldn’t have all our eggs in one basket? Human nature being what it is, such an announcement might have caused some to make a run on the vaccination clinics rivaling the early Covid-19 toilet paper panic. But it might also have had a positive social effect by offering two roles for people to play that when combined would amount to different sides working together for a common goal. Which is unity. Not scowling discord. And if there is still a clear, science-based, health reason for abandoning the 65 percent benchmark, what exactly is it, and why exactly haven’t we been told what it is? Where’s the clear-cut explanation from the White House?
Let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t know a corpuscle from a crab cake, but insisting that people obey without thinking as proof of their patriotism is a prescription for an epidemic of another sort.