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The return of COVID-19

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For ten days now, the seven-day moving average for daily diagnoses of new COVID cases in the United States has been rising. It’s evident that a new wave of the pandemic is on the way, and that daily death totals from the illness — which are still averaging about 250 per day, i.e., a rate that would mean nearly 100,000 more COVID deaths over the next year — are going to start climbing again in a few weeks.

In other words, in the USA at least, if you’re vaccinated the pandemic is pretty much over, but if you’re not, it very much isn’t — not by a long shot.

As of today, exactly one third of the US population above the age of 18 hasn’t gotten even partially vaccinated. That’s 85 million people — more than the entire population of Germany.

Health care workers, who after 16 months of extreme crisis management are physically and emotionally exhausted, are now going to be required to spend enormous amounts of time and money managing yet another wave of a disease that would for all practical purposes no longer exist in this country if people were minimally rational about this issue, which thanks primarily to the Republican party and the right wing media complex they are not.

A lot of these people are getting fed up, and I certainly can’t blame them:

Dr. Terrence Coulter, a critical care specialist at CoxHealth, said he and his colleagues were stunned to find themselves back in the trenches after the briefest of respites. “With everyone masked, you learn to read the emotions in your co-workers’ eyes,” he said. “They’re weary and they’re also disappointed that the country has started the end zone dance before we cross the goal line. The truth is we’re fumbling the ball before we even get there.”

America’s health care workers are in crisis, even in places that have had sharp declines in coronavirus infections and deaths. Battered and burned out, they feel unappreciated by a nation that lionized them as Covid heroes but often scoffed at mask mandates and refused to follow social distancing guidelines. Many of those same Americans are now ignoring their pleas to get vaccinated.

Doctors and nurses are also overworked, thanks to chronic staffing shortages made worse by a pandemic that drove thousands from the field. Many are struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress; others are mourning at least 3,600 colleagues who won’t be around for the celebrations.

“People don’t realize what it was like to be on the front lines and risking your own safety without adequate protective gear while dealing with so much death,” said Mary Turner, a registered nurse in Minneapolis who was unable to comfort her own father as he lay dying alone of Covid in a nursing home in the early days of the pandemic. A few months later, she found herself sobbing uncontrollably in a hospital room as she held up a phone so a man could say goodbye to his father. “A lot of us are still dealing with PTSD,” she said.

Almost every COVID death in the US from here on out is essentially a murder-suicide, committed by the Republican party and its media enablers.

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