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EDITORIAL: Local hospitals point way for society in Pandemic 2.0

EDITORIAL: Local hospitals point way for society in Pandemic 2.0

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Americans are coming to grips with sobering public health realities: The mutation and spread of SARS-CoV-2 again imperils the way we live. Many justifiably blame this latest surge on those who neglected or refused to get COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing variants to fester and emerge reborn in more infectious form. Such resistance to common sense — often politically motivated — not only places the rest of us at risk in our health but endangers an economy everyone claims to cherish.

Worse, we can no longer count on many of our politicians who, fearful of reelection failure and offending radicalized members of their party, decline to mandate the temporary wearing of masks in public, let alone encourage vaccinations. To his credit, McLennan County Republican Party Chairman Brad Holland, a longtime physician, has bowed to his Hippocratic Oath and urged fellow residents to get vaccinated in the name of “personal responsibility” — once upon a time a Republican virtue.

Count us overjoyed that Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest and Ascension Providence are now mandating vaccination of their workforce. To quote Providence, the decision is “rooted in our mission commitment to leading with quality and safety. As a health care provider and as a Catholic ministry, ensuring we have a culture of safety for our associates, patients and communities is foundational to our work.” Baylor Scott & White explains the delta variant is “the most contagious and dangerous strain” seen to date.

Expect little such courage from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, clearly intent on allowing viral spread because to do otherwise might hurt his 2022 reelection bid. Why on Earth not adopt the approach of Republican gubernatorial candidate and Trump disciple Sarah Huckabee Sanders in neighboring Arkansas? She’s shrewdly encouraging fellow residents to get the “Trump vaccine.” Whatever else, the vaccine was developed under then-President Trump’s frantic encouragement.

Given the failure of state leaders, we look to further encouragement by city and county officials as well as our good corporate neighbors. Maybe the city-county health department can print up stickers for the entrances of businesses confirming similar vaccinations of their own employees have taken place and that customers can come in with confidence. Given that viral infection is to an extent preventable, this step would show commerce’s heart is in the right place in protecting supposedly valued customers.

Plenty of reasons exist for the deadly toll of COVID-19 last year, including confusion about the virus’ enormous potential for spread, a steep learning curve on proper treatment, a chaotic response by government at all levels (though the city of Waco and some nearby cities rate praise) and the failure of citizens to heed their own doctors. Reasons for this latest spread are fewer and include recklessness by craven politicians and the sheep who constitute their followers. This time around, blame for viral spread causing sickness and death as well as economic downturn is all theirs.

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