COVID’s getting stronger and we’re growing more complacent

After returning from a trip home to New Orleans, I was diagnosed July 11 with COVID-19, joining over 89 million Americans and over 559 million people around the world who’ve received confirmed diagnoses of the disease. The actual number stricken is undoubtedly higher and keeps growing, as new coronavirus variants and subvariants spread.    

The office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced on July 10 that he tested positive. Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Dr. Anthony Fauci (President Biden’s chief medical adviser on the pandemic) and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband were among the millions who came down with COVID.   

The great heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, known as the “Brown Bomber,” said of an opponent in 1941: “He can run, but he can’t hide.” That could apply to all of us today as we try to evade the coronavirus. This microscopic opponent keeps finding more and more of us and landing its punch. We need to keep our guard up and protect ourselves as best we can.  

Thankfully, I’m not doing too badly. I just feel like a have a bad cold. I’ve been fully vaccinated and received two boosters, and because of that, I expect to fully recover soon.  

Sadly, the confirmed death toll for COVID-19 is over 1 million in the U.S. and over 6.3 million globally. As bad as that is, experts tell us it’s an undercount. Fauci says 2 million to 3 million Americans have probably lost their lives to the disease.   

I’m grateful for all the researchers who developed lifesaving vaccines and treatments, the many people who produced them, and Dr. Fauci and many other government health experts. I’m grateful that former President Trump and his coronavirus task force prioritized vaccine development in what I consider his greatest accomplishment as president.   

And I’m grateful that President Biden and his administration successfully rolled out coronavirus vaccines and treatments (like the Paxlovid I’m now taking) and are distributing them for free across the nation. This is an enormous achievement.  

But even though governments at all levels have lifted mask mandates and other restrictions — sometimes under court orders — it’s premature to say the pandemic is over. The BA.5 subvariant, which is now causing most COVID cases in the U.S., is the most contagious yet.   

I’m saddened that so many people are still not getting vaccinated and boosted and that vaccinations and masking have become a partisan issue. We’re in a war with the coronavirus and we all need to unite to fight the battle, regardless of our political persuasion.   

After all, the virus strikes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Socialists, Communists and people who are completely apolitical. It strikes people of every race, age, ethnicity and religion. If anything should unite us as Americans, it should be the fight against this killer.   

Incredibly, Senate Republicans are continuing to block $10 billion in desperately needed funding for coronavirus vaccines, treatments and testing. This compromise from Biden’s original request for $22.5 billion should have been passed months ago on a bipartisan basis. White House COVID coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told reporters “we would see a lot of unnecessary loss of life” if Republicans continue to block the measure.  

On top of this, many Republican elected officials criticized mask mandates at the height of the pandemic, even disputing the sound medical advice that masks protect against coronavirus transmission.   

A Morning Consult poll of nearly 30,000 U.S. adults in June found that 13 percent of Democrats said they were uncertain or unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID, but the figure jumped to 30 percent among independents and nearly tripled to 35 percent among Republicans.  

The reluctance of so many to get vaccinated explains why fewer Americans have been vaccinated and boosted than citizens in many other countries.   

According to the vaccine tracker updated daily by Bloomberg News, 77.8 percent of Americans have received one coronavirus shot and 66.4 percent are fully vaccinated, but only 31.8 percent have received a booster dose. Bloomberg reports that the percentage of the population receiving boosters is higher in 70 countries and regions around the world, including in seven where over 70 percent of the population has been boosted.  

I’m glad so many other countries are boosting their populations at high rates, but sorry that more Americans aren’t taking advantage of vaccines and boosters. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies published earlier this year, Pfizer and Moderna boosters were 90 percent effective in keeping people from being hospitalized with COVID and 82 percent effective in keeping them from needing to go to hospital emergency rooms or urgent care clinics.  

I hope more Americans do as I’ve done and get fully vaccinated and boosted. And I hope more Republican elected officials join Democrats in urging their supporters to get lifesaving jabs as well to quite literally help heal our nation of both COVID and of toxic partisanship.   

COVID vaccinations have been proven safe and effective, with more than 12.2 billion doses given to people in 184 countries. Vaccinations protect you, your loved ones, your friends, colleagues and everyone you come in contact with. And they relieve the stress on the entire health care system and on dedicated doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who care for us — and free them up to meet our other health care needs.   

I look forward to putting COVID behind me, getting out of isolation and going back soon to New Orleans to eat, dance, laugh and let the good times roll. And I hope people around the world can enjoy good times and good health as well, even though it has become impossible to hide from the virus that has changed our world. 

Donna Brazile is a political strategist, a contributor to ABC News and former chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is the author of “Hacks: Inside the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.” 

Tags Anthony Fauci Biden Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Coronavirus COVID-19 Kamala Harris Nancy Pelosi omicron strain omicron subariants Omicron variant president joe biden coronavirus covid-19 pandemic response concern economy business policy finance vaccine Politics of the United States Trump

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