News last week of a third approved COVID-19 vaccine should signal a move toward normalcy. But thanks to blue state and bureaucratic screwups and this week’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, giving the vaccinated masses “limited freedom” — which is to say limiting their freedom — there is little cause for excitement.
At the close of February, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the new single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, meaning tens of millions more doses will soon be pouring out into the population. Setting aside for a moment that this new vaccine is morally problematic for many Americans since it was developed using fetal line cells from aborted babies, it has proved to be very effective against COVID-19.
FDA scientists said the shot is 66 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of the virus and 85 percent effective at warding off the most serious cases, and these rates account for new variants of the virus, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials. Also unlike the other two vaccines, this one requires only a single shot instead of two.
For everyone unbothered by how the vaccine was developed, this should be incredible news. Getting your vulnerable loved ones and maybe eventually yourself moved faster through the vaccine line should be an exciting development. After a year of lockdowns, economic hardship, declining mental health, scarce education, deteriorating relationships, and stifled worship, many Americans are beyond ready to get back to normal.
Excitement about this new shot, however, depends on Americans’ confidence in the vaccine. And confidence in the vaccine is only possible when Americans are convinced of their government’s competence and willingness to move forward as more of the population is vaccinated — which is all to say, this news can only conjure up so much enthusiasm.
Blue States Fell Behind
Consider first the government’s demonstrable lack of competence during the vaccine rollout, particularly among blue states such as California.
While the media lambasted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for disregarding federal guidelines in order to prioritize vaccinating his state’s vulnerable elderly, doubtless saving many lives, blue states were embroiled in their own rollout disasters. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the same man whose nursing home policy contributed to the deaths of nearly 10,000 residents, instituted confusing rules and eligibility requirements that left precious doses of the drug thrown away, spoiled amid the failure. Under Cuomo, who is now embroiled in two separate scandals, prisoners were permitted to jump the vaccine line ahead of vulnerable populations.
Of the top four most successful states in the early days of vaccine rollout and administration, three were red: North Dakota, West Virginia, and South Dakota. Now North Dakota’s mask mandate has expired and West Virginia has lifted its capacity limits on restaurants and other businesses. These types of actions instill confidence in a vaccine and move Americans toward normalcy — but they’re few and far between and confined mostly to red states.
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s vaccine failures, which mirrored New York’s, have added fuel to the fire of his opponents’ recall efforts. Consider that while nearly 13 percent of the West Virginia population has received both doses of a two-dose vaccine, only 8.5 percent of Californians have been so fortunate.
Are Leaders Willing to Move Forward?
But even if every state in the union were able to ramp up efficiency in distribution to look more like West Virginia or the Dakotas, will that change anything? While states like Texas and Mississippi have decided to reopen their businesses and stop requiring masks, most states haven’t shown nearly even that degree of commitment to freedom.
The Johnson and Johnson shot is 66 percent effective, they say? Well, that’s not 100 percent, the COVID kings will say when they decide it serves their interests. We’ve done this dance before. The same people who said you should double-mask because two are better than one will not be satisfied when you get a shot that is only 66 percent effective. So on the one-year anniversary of 15 days to slow the spread, do get your vaccine but also please remain six feet apart and make sure your mask is tight around your nose and chin.
Monday’s much-anticipated CDC guidelines for people who are vaccinated say as much. According to the guidelines, vaccinated people should still wear masks and socially distance in public and do the same when they’re with at-risk people or with unvaccinated people from more than one household. The guidelines also say vaccinated people should avoid undefined medium and large gatherings and keep heeding CDC and health department travel requirements — meaning even after you’re vaccinated, don’t travel if you can avoid it.
It isn’t just the CDC. Lawmakers and bureaucrats have been sending the message for months that a vaccine does basically nothing in the way of helping us achieve any semblance of normalcy. Just as now-Vice President Kamala Harris turned the vaccine into a political football before winning the election, the opportunism continues.
Even after COVID-19 case numbers plummeted and vaccines began ramping up, so-called infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said “it is possible” we’ll still be wearing masks in 2022. Likewise, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last month, “Even after you’re vaccinated, social distancing, wearing masks are going to be essential.”
Jen Psaki: "Even after vaccinated, social distancing [and] wearing masks are going to be essential."
Where does it end?? pic.twitter.com/E6Eha3DMhr
— Kylee Zempel (@kyleezempel) February 4, 2021
Meanwhile, the president of the United States is instilling no confidence either. Commenting on when America might return to normal, Biden said, “My hope is by this time next year” but that “there’s a lot we have to do yet.” Despite being fully vaccinated, the commander in chief is also doubling-masking, something the CDC began recommending as case numbers continued to plummet.
He's been vaccinated for months now. His actions are anti-science and undermine the fight against the virus. The president needs to be communicating to the public that the vaccine works. https://t.co/lizio9ZOjt
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) March 9, 2021
This terrified mentality will never propel America toward anything resembling normal. A rejection of this fearmongering, however, leads blue states and blue checks to lose their minds, declaring anyone who discards fear and bureaucratic orthodoxy to be murderous and selfish.
Just look at what happened when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week he was lifting his mask mandate and opening the state “to 100 percent,” and Mississippi followed suit. Abbott’s actions were deemed “criminal,” “absolutely reckless,” and “a racist death sentence.”
Our ruling class has no desire to resume normal life. Our personal decisions are now perpetually decided for us, according to the fears and desires of the most risk-averse among us, sometimes for nothing more than political capital.
If the vaccine is effective and we should all get it, as our political leaders insist, there is no reason not to pursue normalcy as shots are increasingly administered and cases plummet. The ruling class can keep pretending as they have for a year that there are no costs associated with social distance, lockdowns, and masking in perpetuity, but that doesn’t make those costs go away.
As long as our leaders continue to drop the ball on vaccine administration or undermine the drug’s effectiveness altogether, there’s no reason to believe our country will begin dusting itself off. COVID cases aren’t keeping Americans in a state of perpetual limbo; those are plunging. It’s blue states and bureaucrats.