America is among the most technologically advanced countries in the world. The computer revolution began here, and the US continues to lead with creativity, innovation, and invention. We used to lead in a wide number of other categories, like education, healthcare, job opportunity, and the workings of democracy. But that’s no longer true. America has slipped far behind other countries in the world, and now finds itself playing catch-up.
To be sure, national politics has had a big role to play. The Republican Party has adopted a do-nothing platform for years, more interested in hobbling and resisting Democratic Party nominees and programs than curing what ails America. This has never been more evident than now, as our country is once again seeing a surge of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Republican-endorsed misinformation designed to subvert the wearing of masks, the value of vaccinations, and confidence in science has resulted in the United States suffering more pandemic deaths per capita than most of the rest of the world.
Locally, California and Sonoma County’s efforts have helped protect us from the type of pandemic casualties seen in some other states, and that’s great, but this latest surge has revealed just how inadequate even the best efforts have been. A hodgepodge of regional government policies combined with an equally inconsistent approach by individual businesses and institutions like schools has led to Covid Chaos. Wearing masks, showing proof of vaccination, social distancing, etc. have all been subject to uncoordinated policies.
California is home to Silicon Valley and technology giants, yet most people are carrying little paper cards with their vaccination information written or stamped on them; few people know that an alternative even exists. A visit to a State of California website www.https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/ lets you download and install a scannable QR code on your smartphone which provides all your vaccination history. It takes all of five minutes to complete the process.
If you have one of the paper vaccination cards, it means the State of California has all your vaccination information in a database, and downloading your personalized QR code and history means you no longer have to worry about losing that little white card.
To be sure, an impediment to alleviating our pandemic problem is the fact that people resist being told what to do. We in America love our personal freedom, to a fault. You’d think protecting ourselves, our families, and our communities during a severe health emergency would be instinctive. It certainly was during the polio epidemic of the 1950s. We can only imagine the death, pain, and suffering that would have ensued if resistance to the polio or smallpox vaccine had been as high as resistance to the Covid vaccines has been today.
Freedom of choice is fine when our health decisions only affect ourselves, but when our decisions can threaten the health of everyone around us, extraordinary measures must be enacted and followed. Unless a uniform set of national standards are adopted and enforced locally, we’ll keep going through one surge after another, racing towards another million needless deaths.
Our penchant to demand individual rights must be subordinated to the welfare of others as a whole. If we avail ourselves of policies and technologies that keep us safe, we can end this pandemic. Other countries are doing it much better than we are. It’s time we learned.