A Less Crappy, Coronavirus-Free Existence Is Just A Shot Away
I received my second shot COVID-19 vaccine Saturday. Walking home afterward from my local Walgreens felt like the intro to Austin Powers.
Yeah, baby, in just a couple more weeks I'll be indestructible! But my hoorays are delayed if not outright denied because 15 Oregon counties, including Portland's Multnomah, have just moved into the "extreme risk" category. No, this isn't because of the lawless Purge riots that your nana hears about on Fox News. COVID-19 hospitalizations are surging, so Governor Kate Brown shut down indoor dining in bars and restaurants in the "extreme risk" areas. Indoor visits at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are now prohibited.
The "extreme risk" category limits large gyms and movie theaters to no more than six patrons. Based on my experience in New York City, fewer than six people in a movie theater usually guaranteed at least a one in five chance someone in the audience was masturbating, regardless of the actual film content. (Seriously, how could anyone get turned on during Event Horizon?)
The situation had worsened to the point that Brown cancelled a proposed “warning week" buffer. If that's anything like my college's “welcome week" before classes started, the “warning week" would've just led to people making very bad decisions.
From the Oregonian:
"I was presented with data showing two paths that Oregon could take: One in which we took no additional action and stood by while more people die from this disease," Brown said during a live-streamed news conference Friday. "Or another that required a temporary tightening of restrictions for certain counties but could save hundreds of lives and prevent as many as 450 hospitalizations over the next three weeks. As your governor, I chose to save lives."
It's encouraging to have a governor who, after careful study, wouldn't choose the mass death option. South Dakota GOP Governor Kristi Noem wouldn't have hesitated to pursue the “Everybody's Free To Feel Bad" route. That's pretty much what she's doing now. She even wants a fireworks display to celebrate "America's birthday" even though at least 1,967 South Dakota residents won't have any more birthdays thanks at least in part to her malicious incompetence.
Conservatives will argue that Brown tightening COVID-19 restrictions more than a year after she closed restaurants and bars the first time vindicates Noem's blissful ignorance strategy. Noem literally did nothing and everything's swell ... for COVID-19. South Dakota has roughly the same population as Austin, Texas, but spread out over a significantly larger area. There's natural physical distancing, but South Dakota still ranks third below North Dakota and Rhode Island for most COVID-19 cases per capita.
Republicans (because they lie all the time) like to attack Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 management while praising Noem's. Yet, Michigan has 9,241 cases per 100,000 residents compared to South Dakota's 13,816 per 100,000 residents.
Oregon is averaging “only" 123 cases per 100,000 people, but cases are rising higher than any other state right now. This is what happens when you let up on controlling the virus just slightly. Fewer people were infected early on, which means there's more people for the virus to infect now. But there's hope in sight, and that's the vaccine.
Dr. Peter Graven, lead data scientist at Oregon Health & Science University, said the data “shows that we just have three or four more weeks until we are in good shape." That's when vaccine rates will be high enough that the virus can't effectively grow.
Unfortunately, Oregon's demand for vaccines has fallen recently. State data reveals a 17 percent drop in the daily average of administered shots. The Oregon Health Authority is concerned people are choosing not to get vaccinated. At present, 37 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated, which is slightly below the national average. We need to roughly double that number to reach herd immunity. Then we can all resume leading whatever passed for a normal life.
So, go get vaccinated, please! It's already worked wonders for me.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."