August 5, 2021
Governments need to refocus on coronavirus
By The Albany Times Union Editorial Board:
New York did a solid job beating back the coronavirus after it took hold here 16 months ago, and for all the sacrifice it took, the state has opened up again.
But now there are signs we are losing ground, as a state government that so ably fought the pandemic seems to have lost its laser focus, and too many unvaccinated citizens live in some kind of illusory state of immunity.
Those two problems were underscored by the revelation this week that the Cuomo administration sat for four months on $15 million that had been set aside in the state budget to address the problem of vaccination hesitancy. It’s an effort that was clearly needed months ago. Barely 57 percent of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control, well below the minimum of 70%. We need more people to get shots to protect those who can’t avail themselves of the vaccine.
Yet only now is the state getting that money to community groups that will try to persuade people in areas where the virus is surging to get these life-saving shots. Most of them are communities of color or white conservative neighborhoods in New York City and on Long Island.
Had this been handled with the speed and urgency with which the Cuomo administration acted last year on many fronts, we might not be seeing such a sharp rise in cases — 145 percent in the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are up 27 percent.
The situation in New York and most of the Northeast isn’t as bad as in some other parts of the nation, particularly the South, which has more than four times the rate of infection. The nation’s hot spots stretch mainly from Florida to Louisiana and up to Missouri.
But the rise in cases here is still cause for concern. With such a substantial number of people unvaccinated, the virus can spread and, even more concerning, develop variants that current vaccines may be less effective against.
It’s apparent that the pandemic remains with us and is still a fluid situation. The Cuomo and Biden administrations need to be as nimble as ever in responding. And those who have not yet gotten a shot should roll up their sleeves and get one, before they get deathly ill or become an unwitting incubator for the next mutation of this virus.
We must not squander the sacrifices of 2020.
We should not let anti-vaxxers hold us hostage
By The Buffalo News Editorial Board:
On Wednesday, July 28, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the big announcement. President Biden followed up with his Thursday, July 29. Now, lower governments, businesses, nonprofits and other entities need to follow suit and rachet up the effort to vaccinate employees – even seriously considering requiring the shots.
The country is being held hostage by the anti-vaxxers. There’s no reason to put up with it.
Cuomo and Biden gave their employees a choice: Be vaccinated or face routine testing. Businesses can go further. By federal rule, they are allowed to establish rules for employment. It’s time to move toward making vaccination against a dangerous and disruptive virus one of them.
It’s hard to understand what the anti-vaxxers are missing. Parts of the country are again, and unnecessarily, descending into Covid hell and yet millions refuse to take the safe and simple step that could nail its coffin shut: Get the shots.
Especially in the South, where vaccine resistance is high and temperatures are forcing people indoors, infection rates are rising dangerously. It’s the price of stubbornness, ignorance and political manipulation.
Here, conditions are worse than they were just a few weeks ago, though still much better than they were early this year. But what will happen in the fall, as cool weather sets in and Western New Yorkers, like southerners today, move indoors? Infection rates could rise again based on the prevalence of the Delta variant, which is more easily transmissible – even by vaccinated people – and more severe. More, and worse, variants remain a real possibility.
By and large, those who have been immunized are safe. A small percentage of them may become sick; like all vaccinations, the Covid shots aren’t perfect. But the risks of hospitalization and death rank somewhere between tiny and infinitesimal. That they exist at all falls mainly on the shoulders of those who refuse to be vaccinated.
It would be all right, though sad, if the resisters were threatening only themselves. But they aren’t. They are a hazard to other unvaccinated people, to individuals with compromised immune systems, to health professionals who are more frequently exposed to the virus, to hospitals that should be dealing with other serious illnesses, to businesses that now have to worry again about the willingness of customers to enter their shops.
We are at a risky moment.