A really big test coming up. The COVID-19 pandemic and strategies to counter its effects on illness and deaths relative to its effects on the economy will become clear as states are divided on approaches. Unfortunately, politics plays a major strategic role in defeating COVID while providing a lifeline to individuals and businesses alike. Successes and failures will have major effects on midterm elections in 2022.
There are now two major weapons in the fight against COVID and variants. First, the global guidelines (masks, distancing, etc.) used to date. Secondly, the recent availability of vaccines. The combination of both is projected to have sufficient impact to allow return to normal activities within this calendar year. That is, unless guidelines are ignored and vaccines are unable to combat variant strains.
While the pandemic is a threat to everyone across the globe, our federal government decided early on to push enforcement responsibility back onto the states. This has created a patchwork of ever-changing policies across the country. Governors in all 50 states were charged with responsibility to control the virus independently.
Unfortunately, at least 25 percent of the U.S. population (more than 50 million) stubbornly refuse to be vaccinated or continue following COVID-19 guidelines. This reluctance to be vaccinated will leave tens of millions still vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Thus, population “pockets” in which the virus can thrive and spread will remain a threat.
Some states, most notably Texas, Florida, South Dakota and Arizona, with Republican governors, have already opted to remove restrictions in order to accelerate return to normal economic and social activities. Others, like Minnesota, with Democrat governors, are taking more measured approaches to avoid sharp spikes in cases and deaths while vaccinations and their effects are proven.
Sharp increases in cases and deaths in the “open” states opposed to states with more cautious, calculated approaches will point out differences between Republican and Democrat approaches.
This indeterminate situation is caused by opposition to following global guidelines for just a few more months while vaccinations reach required levels. Adding this to the expected surge in the states “opening” up completely will be a huge deterrent to getting the pandemic under control.
For governors who choose to disregard federal guidelines, rises in cases and death across wide reaches of the country is on them personally. There’s nowhere to hide.
We’ll know in a few months…here’s hoping it will turn out well.