Opinion | The Coronavirus Vaccine Won’t Solve Everything – The New York Times
“Open America up,” Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, tweeted recently. “Masks don’t work,” said Ron Paul, the former Republican presidential candidate. Both these assertions defy science and public health recommendations; they are not just misleading but potentially lethal.
All this may worsen the pandemic.
“I think we’re going to go up for weeks,” warns Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Cases are cresting in the upper Midwest, but that’s just from massively high rates, and the post-Thanksgiving bump is just beginning to play out.”
Just as the Thanksgiving bump fades, I fear, the Christmas bump will arrive.
It’s not that the coronavirus can’t be controlled: Europe had a terrible autumn wave but reined in the virus — while keeping schools open. Yet the United States as a whole still can’t match Europe in rationally managing the virus. That goes back to weak American governance; if only Trump tackled a real virus as aggressively as he does fake electoral rigging.
“Most European countries are doing their best with government messaging, restrictions on hospitality and indoor house visits, testing, tracing, soft-touch border restrictions and face coverings, whereas the U.S. looks like a free-for-all,” said Devi Sridhar, an American who is a professor of global health at University of Edinburgh. She noted that European countries have also put in place structures — universal health care, sick pay, free testing — that make it easier to address a crisis like this.
While Republicans have been particularly irresponsible in resisting face masks, it is mostly local Democratic officials who have irresponsibly kept schools closed more than necessary. As I’ve argued since May, that exacerbates inequality and learning gaps — without significantly curbing the virus.
“If the status quo continues, students of color stand to lose 11 to 12 months of learning by the end of the [school] year,” McKinsey & Company warns in a new report. White students would be set back by less, four to eight months, it says.
The United States is also bungling the economic response. The nonprofit Feeding America warns that the pandemic could cause food insecurity affecting one in four American children, but Congress has been unable to pass an emergency bill to support those out of work. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is recklessly trying to disable tools used by the Federal Reserve to address the economic crisis, apparently seeking to inflict more pain on Americans in the Biden administration.
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