By Haddon Libby
Many are excited about Stage 3 test results for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination that proved effective in 90% of patients. Between Pfizer and other drug makers looking to roll-out vaccines and treatments over the next few months, many experts believe that it will take until the end of 2022 for a sufficient percentage of the population to be vaccinated.
For many local businesses, this timeline is the equivalent to a death sentence. The despair experienced and expected to be increasingly experienced by more due to long slowdown and shuttering of many businesses should be enough for all of us to want to do our part.
If we want to help in keeping local businesses open, restart our festivals and attract Canadians for the winter, people need to feel safe. In the near-term, the only option that we have is to wear masks when around others. With better focus on COVID under a new administration in January, we can expect fast, free, and readily available testing along with some form of opt-in contact tracing soon although not soon enough to save the upcoming winter season.
As vaccines and treatments are rolled out, one of the greatest risks is that the virus will mutate. If the virus were to change in composition sufficiently, upcoming vaccines and tests would not treat a new strain of the virus. This concern between real in recent weeks as minks in mink farms have been catching the virus from humans and then infecting humans in return. If a strong enough mutation were to enter the general population, could see a new strain of the virus spread globally.
As you can see, the longer this goes on, the greater the chance of a mutation and a lengthening of the pandemic. Given that the virus is more heavily spread by asymptomatic people, we all need to follow the science and do our part in eliminating COVID-19. To do anything else will simply extend the time where business activity remains too low for many of our local businesses to survive while killing more people.
The way that America has dealt with the virus has been badly hampered by the Presidential election cycle. The Trump administration has actively used disinformation to try and downplay the impact of the virus while Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put party before people.
What did we learn from the recent elections? Here in the Coachella Valley most cities saw between 35-40% of voters participate – matching the national average. That means that 3 in 5 people did not participate in democracy. As is usually the case, the affluent voted in higher percentages than those with lower incomes. Older voters participated more than younger voters.
The vote tells us that the majority of Americans do not care for the politics of division. This means that the divisive tactics of both parties were repudiated.
Stock markets are clearly relieved that the GOP gained in the house while barely holding the Senate. A Biden presidency without Speaker Pelosi (or a severely weakened one) and a GOP Senate was virtually a best-case scenario for equities.
Bringing this back around to the Coachella Valley, we need to find a way to engage all locals in the voting process – it is a tragedy that so many locals did not participate in democracy.
We also need to work together as a community to bring down infection rates instead of behaving in careless and selfish manners. Until we all learn to work as one in eliminating the virus, we can expect hard times for many of our local businesses, neighbors and friends.
Wear a mask, wash your hands a lot and socially distance. Anything else will not work.