Little Rock It’s official. Covid is done. The pandemic is over. We know this in several ways. The President and the various agencies have so declared. Rule 42 which closed our southern border to immigrants because of the pandemic has been lifted, and interestingly some Republican attorneys general are trying to sue to keep the rule intact. I guess they didn’t want to admit we were in a pandemic before, when we were in a pandemic, but now they want to say we’re in the pandemic, even though the pandemic has terminated. Only a lawyer could figure out how to say both of those things out of their mouths at the same time.
Speaking of mouths, it was interesting to be on the East Coast where some people, mainly young people, were still wearing masks. When we met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the facility said we had to make the masks mandatory on our flyers, but only a handful were sporting them, including the two Sunrise organizers, so it might have been a statement thing. In the South, you need to do a search to locate someone masked, and if you do locate someone, you need to make sure it’s not a masked marauder.
To say Covid is over is also not to say that it’s out. The CDC tracking website, trying to align with the new policies, is no longer tracking hospital visits and some other factors since May 11th on their tracker, but on another site, it’s still pretty easy to see what’s up. Or, down, because for the most recent report, the dashboard says hospitalizations are down 4.9% from the previous week and deaths are down 11.8%.
All of that sounds good, and goodness knows, we need this pandemic to be over. At the same time there are still 2000 deaths a week in the most recent figures on the web. That’s a clip that could be 100,000 per year. Covid is still the third or fourth-deadliest killer annually. The cumulative death count is now over 1.1 million deaths. This is still a serious public health problem, even if we’re all pretending it isn’t. For example, the program director for KABF, a 100,000-watt station in Little Rock who has been with us for over 35 years and is now past his mid-80s, got Covid and has been out almost a month. Almost four million people are still strapped with long Covid.
Sure, everyone needs to live their lives and make the best choices for themselves and their families, but most of us know that it’s risky behavior to drink while we’re driving, to keep smoking while pretending we’re twenty, and to walk in traffic. Maybe that explains why only 17% of the eligible population has accessed the latest anti-Covid booster shot? It doesn’t change the fact that for many, that’s just plain risky and asking for trouble.