I was talking to a coworker last week in Oregon where indoor coffee shop dwelling is not allowed, and in fact outdoor masking on the streer is required in certain places. This was shocking to me because these protocols do not align with the known science of Covid transmission. Not only that, but it's in a place where daily case counts come in at about 24 per 100,000 people, and 78% of people 12 and over are vaccinated. Meanwhile, many rural locales, far less densely populated areas, plus most of Tennessee and Kentucky, see per capita infection rates that are 6 or 7 times as bad, with lower vaccination rates, and they're not doing much of anything.
Now, good on Portland from the standpoint that their hospitals aren't being crushed, but it still seems like an extreme reaction not rooted in the science. Granted, things are pretty bad here in Orange County, as I've described previously. Being treated on a random counter in the ER is not ideal, to say the least. I suppose the West Coast desire to do the right thing is frankly better than doing nothing, or worse, having your own governor attempt to prevent you from doing anything. This kind of thing is not what healthcare workers signed up for.
On one hand we would understand that your odds of a breakthrough infection are pretty slim, maybe 1 in 5,000 per day. I think we're all at most a degree or two away from someone who experienced this, and in almost every case it wasn't a big deal. My own anecdote is that we've been vaccinated and circulating around theme parks now for four months, among tourists from all over, no less, without incident. (Well, I did have something for a couple of days, but it didn't fit the Covid bill.) We even had that stretch where we didn't have to use masks indoors.
But let's be real, vaccinated people are having to wear masks because the unvaccinated wouldn't do it otherwise. It feels like the whole class is losing recess because of those few misbehaving kids. And if they would have been adults and had the shots earlier in the summer, we would be like, "Delta what?" by now. Those are the folks who should be hysterical about this, but they're not.
Yes, there is still concern about kids under 12, I know, because I have one. He masks like a pro, and does it at school. This weekend, he did an overnight with one of his classmates (great story about that to tell), for the first time ever, and it was a pretty big deal. Like anything, you assess the risk, and with a work-from-home parent, it seemed pretty low risk. Kids are lower risk to begin with, though I still worry a little because of his allergies and bout with pneumonia some years ago. But then I look at the window of critical development that he's entering, and how he's lost 18 months already for social engagement. The risk of him not having those opportunities seems higher.
The situation is endlessly frustrating. It's tempting to shrug it off, since 99% of the people dying in hospitals now are unvaccinated, and they made their choice. It's completely preventable. But as I've been saying for some time, our individual actions have widespread impact. Those people in the hospital are costing billions of dollars, and we'll all pay for that with higher insurance premiums. Healthcare workers are completely overworked. They're compelling extreme mask usage and business interruption in certain areas. They're keeping the labor market for service jobs hesitant. The irony is that they often appear to be the same people who vocally insisted that the economy reopen before the vaccine rollout.
Now there are waves of mandates coming from private employers, and the noise against that is reaching a fever pitch. Again, this is the least hard thing that has ever been asked of Americans. You just need to get a shot. No one is asking you to ration food or fuel. This isn't a draft where we're requiring military service where you have to risk your life. It's just a shot, like those you had to get before you started school. Seriously, you might even get a lolly.