(Trends Wide) — The COVID-19 situation in the US remains dire, with 1,500 people dying every day and an average of 150,000 new cases every day.
With more than 100,000 Americans hospitalized, the number of deaths – almost certainly an underestimate – will continue to rise above the current total of 653,000. It seems certain that it will eclipse the death toll from the 1918 influenza pandemic and is far greater than all conflicts in the United States except the Civil War.
President Joe Biden, outlining a new covid-19 strategy on Thursday, expressed near anger toward the unvaccinated. “We have been patient, but our patience is wearing thin and their refusal has cost us all,” he said, before setting new mandates and requirements for US citizens to control the virus.
What’s the plan? Biden has a new six-point strategy for dealing with the virus. If you’re like me, you’ve lost track of the various government efforts and reboots. This is just the most recent.
Biden’s plan (find a full summary in English here) includes these points:
1. Vaccinate the unvaccinated with mandates for public and private employees. Biden directed the Department of Labor to require all employers with more than 100 workers to require the vaccine or regular testing. That is an effort that will surely make it to federal court. Additionally, the White House will strengthen vaccination requirements for most federal workers, but will eliminate the option for workers to undergo periodic testing instead of vaccination. He will sign a decree that requires the same standard for federal contractors.
In total, there are 2.5 million workers. It is a step that they hope will stimulate similar actions in the private sector. Biden signed an order last month requiring nursing homes that received Medicare and Medicaid funds to vaccinate their workers.
I asked Ariel Edwards-Levy of Trends Wide’s Polls and Elections team what we know about whether companies are requiring vaccines and how workers feel about it.
She highlighted two recent polls:
- 19% of American employees said their employer will require the COVID-19 vaccine to return to the workplace, according to a Gallup poll in August. That’s roughly double the 9% in July. It also finds that an additional 55% of employers now encourage, but do not require, that workers get vaccinated.
- Even in workplaces without a vaccination requirement, only a minority of employees are not vaccinated – less than a third in an ABC News / Washington Post survey. But most of them said they would rather quit than get vaccinated.
2. Further protect those vaccinated with booster shots. There has been some confusion about this as the country moves closer to recommending boosters for Americans most at risk. Some recipients of the Pfizer vaccine could be ready for boosters as early as September 20, although the FDA has not yet approved them.
A key advisory board meets Sept. 17, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to establish guidelines on who should receive them. The CDC website suggests that people should not receive a booster until at least eight months after receiving their second dose. The emphasis is on older Americans and first-line vaccinated workers.
3. Keep schools open. Schools are the hottest point in the fight over masking requirements. Biden promised to compensate the salary of any teacher or administrator whose pay was withheld by a state that opposes mask-wearing requirements.
He also said he will require 300,000 educators to be vaccinated in federal Head Start programs and will ask governors to require vaccinations for teachers and school staff.
As the school year begins, schools across the country are grappling with teacher and student quarantines disrupting what was supposed to be the big comeback. The Los Angeles Unified School District was poised to open a new front in that fight when it became the first major US school district to require vaccination for teens 12 and older. Increased testing in schools in places where the virus moves quickly could reduce the spread. But so will demand the vaccine among students.
Infections and hospitalizations among children are on the rise, which worries experts, but they remain the age group least likely to get sick or die from the virus. Among recent infections, more than a quarter were children, but less than 3% of hospitalizations are of children. Some younger children develop an inflammatory disease, MISC-C, after contracting COVID-19. That can keep them hospitalized for weeks.
4. Increased evidence. The Defense Production Act will be used to accelerate rapid test production, and the administration plans to send 25 million free tests to US health clinics.
Some retailers, such as Amazon, Kroger and Walmart, will sell home tests at cost for the next three months, Biden said.
Regular and affordable tests, if done correctly, can not only diagnose people who are feeling ill, but can also stop the spread of the pandemic by informing people if they are contagious and need to stay home, even if not. they feel sick. Scientists have been pushing for these kinds of tests – accessible, affordable, and ideally at home – since the beginning of the pandemic.
5. Economic recovery. The eviction moratorium and expanded unemployment insurance have expired. The government’s toolkit to help those affected by the pandemic is moving away from direct aid.
But Biden announced Thursday that his administration would expand the Economic Damage Disaster Loan program to allow small businesses to borrow up to $ 2 million, up from $ 500,000 today, in low-interest long-term loans if its sales have been affected by covid-19.
In July, the number of available jobs in the United States rose to 10.9 million, a new record, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.
6. Improving the care of people with covid-19. The United States will also increase the availability of new drugs “recommended by real physicians, not conspiracy theorists,” to help COVID-19 patients, Biden said.
“We already distribute 1.4 million courses of these treatments to save lives and reduce stress in hospitals. Tonight, I announce that I will increase the average rate of shipping nationwide, a free treatment with monoclonal antibodies by another 50%.” said the president.
Additionally, the Department of Defense will double the number of military health teams available to assist overburdened hospitals across the country.
Understand what motivates the unvaccinated
The most important element is convincing people to get vaccinated. The vast majority of hospitalized people and the vast majority of those who die do not have the vaccine.
That means the unvaccinated are draining the health care system.
We speak primarily in this newsletter about the government’s major macroeconomic efforts and refer to people as “the unvaccinated” in broad strokes.
They are people too, and if they’re ever going to be convinced to get vaccinated and help stop this never-ending mess, it’s worth hearing what motivates them.
Trends Wide’s Elle Reeve did just that with a stunning video. It will take ten minutes to see your report. You should.
She spent five days in Carter County, Missouri. It was his second trip there after the first in October 2020. He came back now that the covid is on the rise again after hearing that a restaurant he visited last year had closed due to the virus.
Only 27% of the county’s population is fully vaccinated. These are the points I got from there.
People did not see the new deadly wave of covid-19 coming. “I didn’t realize how under-vaccinated we were,” Dr. Christopher Cochran of Ozarks Healthcare told Reeve. He said he thought more people in the area were vaccinated because earlier this year the virus was declining.
“This came back like a wildfire,” he said. Peer pressure in the city, where people get angry when they tell them what to do, is against the vaccine and it’s hard for people to get out of it.
Jim Rodenbush told Reeve that he is not vaccinated, but will be soon. His wife Ruth battled cancer for 12 years and died eight days after learning she had contracted COVID-19.
His doctor told him not to get vaccinated because of the chemotherapy.
There is a kind of pride in ignoring the experts. A friend of Rodenbush’s, Wayland Bland, who was in the hospital for seven days last fall, said he doesn’t want the vaccine now.
“I’m not going to take that shit,” he told Reeve. “I don’t like people trying to inject me or whatever because I’m as stubborn a guy as you’ve ever seen.”
When he was sick in the hospital, he took steroids and other drugs like Regeneron, which helped former President Donald Trump recover from the virus. At the time, he said he would have taken anything.
But he will not get vaccinated now in part, he said, because he feels that the vaccine manufacturers and the administration tricked Trump into losing the election.
“You took my president out of me. I’m not taking your medicine,” Bland said. Unaware that Trump is vaccinated, Bland said he will take what Trump received, but not the vaccine.
When Reeve pointed out that Trump had been vaccinated, Bland said he did not know all the facts, but that “I do not apply it because I am that stubborn.”
There is a religious element to some people. Tim Wilder is a Carter County Commissioner.
“I’m going to dig deep with you,” he told Reeve. “I think if the good Lord wants me right now, it doesn’t matter if I get a vaccine or not. And I know a lot of people would say okay He also gave you common sense and you should get the vaccine, but that’s, you know, so it’s how I see things. “
There is some hope that people will ultimately get the vaccine. She ends the story on an interesting note, however, after speaking with a man named Brian Keathley, who was vehemently anti-mask last fall. Vehemently
If he died of covid, he said at the time, he would put on his tombstone that it was anti-mask.
Now he says it is the government’s fault that the people of Carter County did not get the vaccine. “Nobody feels that they can trust our government,” he said. “It is not my fault that nobody is wearing a mask. It is not my fault that nobody has received the vaccine. It is the fault of the government.”
But she pressed him, repeatedly, on whether the vaccine had been given.
While arguing that it didn’t matter if he put it on or not, he finally said:
“If you understand it, it can kill you. End of story. And I don’t want my wife to wonder when they put you in a medically induced coma and put a tube down your throat, is he going to get out of there? it was that I got the vaccine “.