Kamloops News

THOMPSON: Will Republicans do the right thing when next viral pandemic arrives?




We don’t have any idea when we’ll face another viral pandemic, or where it will come from. The possibilities are as numerous as the number of viruses, 1.7 million from birds and mammals alone.

I wonder what it will be like in the U.S. and Canada when…not if…the next virus hits? How will things be different? Will things be different?

Epidemiologists say there’s no way of predicting the deadly nature of the next virus. Suppose it’s ten times or 100 times as deadly as COVID-19. Nearly five million people have died worldwide in the past year and a half, so that would put deaths from a more virulent disease at 50 million to 500 million people.

That should scare us all. But, apparently, it does not.

Will people who avoided vaccinations this time…get vaccinated if they’re ten or a hundred times more likely to die? You might think so…but you probably are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and, well, accept facts. There is little reason to assume anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists who believe scientists and governments propagated the COVID-19 pandemic will act any differently at all…American or Canadian.

While there has been a slight uptick in vaccinations by both Americans and Canadians after the emergence of the Delta variant four months ago…today’s statistics - facts - speak of vaccine hesitancy even in the face over overwhelming evidence supporting vaccinations. Canadians have done better than Americans…but vaccination hesitancy has killed people unnecessarily in both nations.

Nine months into vaccinations, just 56 percent of Americans and 70 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated…even though vaccines are plentiful in both countries. In September, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci reported that more than 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. were unvaccinated. More than 675,000 Americans have died during the pandemic so far…just under 28,000 Canadians have died from COVID-19.

My expectations for how people will act in even worse times are pretty low. Things will be better in Canada than the U.S. There are - quite frankly - just too many ignorant Americans to expect a better outcome for the next pandemic. What would you base an optimistic prediction on…hope…thoughts and prayers?

No, the same political hacks - Republicans - whose actions or inactions killed people this time…will do the same…only the numbers will be bigger. Red states with their Republican Governors and Republican Congressmen will do their worst…deny the virus, fight masks, fight social distancing, not help people who lose jobs, undermine vaccinations.

How do I know? You don’t have to be a sage to figure this out. They don’t care enough…when have they? The current pandemic? Inaction when too many guns kill too many people…even children? When in the past 15 years have Republicans done the right thing?

Consider the fact that not a single Right Winger - not the Fox News Three Stooges: Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity; not the Hoover Institution’s Richard Epstein - none predicted more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths 18 months ago. Donald Trump - then president - estimated 15 deaths…yeah, remember that? Fifteen!

Hey, I’d love to be wrong on this…really! But show me one scintilla of evidence that might lead to a more favourable outcome…than something much worse than today.

COVID-19 is far deadlier than any Right-Wing pundit hoped for or predicted, and yet the divisiveness of Republicans that started a year and a half ago and hasn’t really budged.

What we’ll likely have whether in five years or 20 years - unless the Republican cult whose only platform plank is to undermine democracy ceases to exist (wishful thinking) - are even more regional disputes, more governors closing borders and restricting travel, more vicious fighting over medical resources from state to state, more crazy culture wars over whether to use Preparation H and Crest toothpaste to cure the virus, more total panic and meltdown about keeping businesses and schools open.

I wish I felt more optimistic…but I’m looking for a reason to make it so and I just don’t see it.

The truth is sobering…and as scary as the people who deny it.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.

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