Sunday, January 2, 2022

Looking Back on 2021. Time to Look Ahead.

2022 is here!  2021 has been an annus horribilis for America and the world.   We have simply not been able to vaccinate and boost ourselves free of the suffocating tentacles of an evolving coronavirus. Here in Ohio and elsewhere COVID-19 tests are endangered species.  Folks spend hours trolling around town hoping that a local pharmacy or a public library will receive a supply at the very moment he or she walks in.  My own inquiries have all yielded the same result – no tests available and no idea if and when they may arrive.

Did you watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve?

The pandemic, which in any earlier time in our history would likely have drawn us together, is cleaving the nation.  The day before writing this, I saw 2 patients who had elected to shun the vaccine.  I’ll spare readers their explanations which originated in the huge ‘science-free zone’ that tens of millions of Americans inhabit.  And earlier in the week, a medical professional who had been vaccinated expressed opposition to a vaccine mandate.  Her objection is that the government should not be able to force us to take such an action.  (Keep in mind that this individual and myself and millions of health care professionals are required to accept yearly influenza vaccines, TB testing and to be up to date with various routine vaccinations.)  I understand the personal freedom argument.  And I agree that we must be very cautious about granting the government excessive control over our individual decisions. Clearly, many private businesses and organizations favor a vaccine mandate as is their right. Others are concerned that a mandate would leave them short of workers after a mandate walk out.  I responded to my medical colleague that her argument that a mandate encroaches on her freedom is vulnerable.  I have no objection, I remarked, if she wishes to refuse a mammogram.  Such a decision only affects her health.  But an individual who declines to be vaccinated can affect the health of others.  These folks have rights also.  But I admit that there is nuance and a slippery slope potential here.

And the FDA and the CDC haven’t inspired much confidence with fumbling decisions and mixed messaging.  Who can blame folks for being confused and skeptical?  The CDC’s most recent iteration of quarantine and isolation policies has been roundly criticized - not by anti-vaxxers but by public health experts.  In fairness, the CDC's new and improved version is an acknowledgement that the prior policy of prioritizing public health over the economy and education was misguided and needed to be recalibrated. 

This past year has also laid bare our politics at its worst.  Comity and collaboration are out and hatred and revenge are in.  The mantra for many of our leaders and their constituents seems to be, I win if you lose, not an uplifting strategy.  And, a year ago the nation was treated to an actual insurrection!

Beyond the pandemic, inflation is surging, our southern border is in chaos and lawlessness and violence abound.  We are all horrified at the smash and grab episodes that are captured on video.

And internationally, our relations with China, Russia, Iran are all going swimmingly. 

Here’s to 2022!  Hoping and praying for a new mantra.  How ‘bout, If we both win, we all win?

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