Way too many people making way too many excuses

Pandemic

At the heart of the matter is the news media’s focus on breakthrough infections, which the CDC has said are rare. In some instances, poorly framed headlines and cable news chyrons wrongly suggested that vaccinated Americans are just as likely to spread the disease as unvaccinated Americans. But that isn’t quite the case. Vaccinated Americans still have a far lower chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus and, thus, they are responsible for far less spread of the disease.

“The media’s coverage doesn’t match the moment,” one of the Biden officials told me. “It has been hyperbolic and frankly irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy. The biggest problem we have is unvaccinated people getting and spreading the virus.”[18]

We do most definitely have a problem with people refusing to be vaccinated and this has been true for a while.[19]

Erika D. Smith reminds[20] me of what I wrote earlier this year, about how Black people have an entirely different experience with the medical system, including truly terrifying and appalling experience, that makes many of them more reluctant to be vaccinated.[21] She points to many of the same factors that appeared in reporting[22] when I wrote that post.

The trouble is that what I feared at that time appears to have come true. With the delta variant, we have a virus that is more contagious, even among the fully vaccinated, even though the vaccines continue to provide strong protection against serious illness.[23] The emergence of this variant does not, by any stretch of the imagination, preclude the appearance of even worse variants in the future. The trouble also is what I wrote more recently, that when people are dying, it is long past time to stop with the bullshit.[24]

While Black fear[25] cannot be so easily dismissed as white fealty to Donald Trump,[26] the fact is, as Smith acknowledges, people, including Black people, are dying.[27] A chart (figure 1) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustrates the problem:[28]

Fig. 1. Screenshot of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breakdown of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths by race and ethnicity,[29] taken by author, July 31, 2021, public domain.

Of the groups shown (figure 1), and relative to white people, only people of Asian descent are at less than or equal risk of infection, hospitalization, or death. Other groups, the indigenous, Latinx, and Black are all at elevated risk. Vaccine hesitancy is, in effect, white supremacy. I’ll say it again: When people are dying, it is long past time to stop with the bullshit.[30]

Alexis Benveniste, “These companies are requiring Covid-19 vaccines for their employees,” CNN, July 28, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/28/business/companies-vaccine-mandate/index.html

Justine Coleman, “Pfizer vaccine effectiveness drops to 84 percent after six months: data,” Hill, July 28, 2021, https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/565282-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-effectiveness-drops-to-84-percent-after-six-months

Jacqueline Howard, “Pfizer data suggest third dose of Covid-19 vaccine ‘strongly’ boosts protection against Delta variant,” CNN, July 28, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/28/health/pfizer-third-dose-data-bn/index.html

Justin Miller and David Wallace-Wells, “What If Vaccines Don’t Really Stop the Virus From Spreading?” New York, July 28, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/covid-vaccines-may-not-totally-stop-delta-from-spreading.html

David Leonhardt to Morning list, “A confusing message,” New York Times, July 28, 2021, https://messaging-custom-newsletters.nytimes.com/template/oakv2?abVariantId=0&campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20210728&instance_id=36411&nl=the-morning&productCode=NN&regi_id=97793637&segment_id=64604&te=1&uri=nyt%3A%2F%2Fnewsletter%2F12f5196d-ad87-5d92-8259-21654fdb0c86&user_id=087ade925ce15f15a24824418c4789ce

Stephen Losey, “DoD Making Masks Mandatory Again, Even for the Vaccinated, in Some Places,” Military.com, July 28, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/07/28/dod-making-masks-mandatory-again-even-vaccinated-some-places.html

Rebecca Ratcliffe, “Myanmar could become Covid ‘super-spreader’ state, says UN expert,” Guardian, July 28, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/28/myanmar-could-become-covid-super-spreader-state-says-un-expert

Erika D. Smith, “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-28/getting-angry-covid-vaccine-holdouts-white-privilege

Yasmeen Abutaleb, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Joel Achenbach, “‘The war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/29/cdc-mask-guidance/

Timothy Bella, “Tucker Carlson falsely claims Anthony S. Fauci ‘created’ covid,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/29/tucker-carlson-fauci-created-covid/

Democracy Now! “‘We Can’t Trust the Unvaccinated’: Dr. Leana Wen on Vaccine Mandates & How to Stop the Delta Variant,” July 29, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/7/29/covid_19_delta_variant_leana_wen

Anne Flaherty and Arielle Mitropoulos, “CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak,” ABC News, July 29, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cdc-mask-decision-stunning-findings-cape-cod-beach/story?id=79148102

Melody Schreiber, “Please Don’t Rush to Get a Third Covid Shot,” New Republic, July 29, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/163103/dont-rush-get-third-covid-shot-pfizer

Sabrina Siddiqui and Paul Kiernan, “Biden Says Federal Employees Must Get Covid-19 Shots or Wear Masks, Test Regularly,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-calls-for-100-payments-for-newly-vaccinated-americans-11627586033

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Charlie Kirk’s pro-Trump youth group stokes vaccine resistance as covid surges again,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/29/vaccine-mandates-charlie-kirk-tpusa/

Leana S. Wen, “The CDC needs to make clear: The problem is the unvaccinated,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/29/leana-wen-cdc-mask-guidance-unvaccinated-problem/

Brianna Abbott, “CDC Says New Mask Guidelines Informed by Cape Cod Outbreak,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-says-new-mask-mandate-informed-by-cape-cod-outbreak-11627664465

Ariana Eunjung Cha, Rose Hansen, and Jacqueline Dupree, “‘A rush to get shots,’” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/30/vaccination-increases-states-delta-surges/

Carolyn Y. Johnson, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Joel Achenbach, “CDC study shows three-fourths of people infected in Massachusetts coronavirus outbreak were vaccinated but few required hospitalization,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/30/provincetown-covid-outbreak-vaccinated/

David Litt, “Republicans used to laud ‘personal responsibility’. Not with Covid,” Guardian, July 30, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/30/republicans-used-to-laud-personal-responsibility-not-with-covid

Ruth Marcus, “Require the vaccine. It’s time to stop coddling the reckless,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/30/require-vaccine-its-time-stop-coddling-reckless/

Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, “White House blasts Covid coverage,” CNN, July 30, 2021, https://view.newsletters.cnn.com/messages/1627696990899989e7b7635dc/raw


Evictions

Rent relief continues to be snarled in bureaucratic red tape,[31] the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in June warning that the eviction moratorium could not be extended past the end of July,[32] and so, today, that moratorium expires, because Congress couldn’t get its act together even with a month’s warning. Democrats in the Congressional leadership complain that they had no warning,[33] which, I’m sorry, defies comprehension. There is no excuse.

Yet again we are on the brink of a flood of evictions that tenants and housing advocates have been warning about for a year and a half now, and it’s been sort of a bungee-jumping experience. So to have such a lukewarm response from the Biden administration at this point in time is really frustrating.[34]

Katy O’Donnell, “‘Down the drain’: Millions face eviction after Biden lets protections expire,” Politico, July 31, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/31/eviction-moratorium-rental-assistance-biden-501917


Infrastructure

Eric Levitz, “5 Reasons Biden Got His Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal,” New York, July 30, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/5-reasons-biden-got-his-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal.html


  1. [18]Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, “White House blasts Covid coverage,” CNN, July 30, 2021, https://view.newsletters.cnn.com/messages/1627696990899989e7b7635dc/raw
  2. [19]Philip Bump, “Vaccine skepticism and disregard for containment efforts go hand in hand,” Washington Post, April 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/04/02/vaccine-skepticism-disregard-containment-efforts-go-hand-in-hand/; Democracy Now! “‘We Can’t Trust the Unvaccinated’: Dr. Leana Wen on Vaccine Mandates & How to Stop the Delta Variant,” July 29, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/7/29/covid_19_delta_variant_leana_wen; Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager, “‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts,” Washington Post, July 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/23/anger-targets-vaccine-holdouts-delta-surge/; Melanie Evans and Julie Wernau, “Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/unvaccinated-covid-19-hospitalizations-11626528110; Maggie Fox, “Unvaccinated people are ‘variant factories,’ infectious diseases expert says,” CNN, July 3, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/03/health/unvaccinated-variant-factories/index.html; David Frum, “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough,” Atlantic, July 23, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/07/vaccinated-america-breaking-point-anti-vaxxers/619539/; Dhruv Khullar, “One half of America is protected. The other is approaching a perilous moment in the pandemic,” New Yorker, June 23, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/science/medical-dispatch/the-delta-variant-is-a-grave-danger-to-the-unvaccinated; Ed Kilgore, “The Willfully Unvaccinated Are the Newest Republican Martyrs,” New York, July 13, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/the-willfully-unvaccinated-are-the-newest-republican-martyrs.html; David Litt, “Republicans used to laud ‘personal responsibility’. Not with Covid,” Guardian, July 30, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/30/republicans-used-to-laud-personal-responsibility-not-with-covid; Apoorva Mandavilli, “Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe,” New York Times, May 3, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/03/health/covid-herd-immunity-vaccine.html; Ruth Marcus, “Require the vaccine. It’s time to stop coddling the reckless,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/30/require-vaccine-its-time-stop-coddling-reckless/; Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin, II, “Tougher tactics targeting the unvaccinated needed to stop new COVID-19 spike, experts say,” Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-14/to-slow-covid-19-rise-door-to-door-vaccine-outreach-and-workplace-requirements-could-help; Ed Pilkington and Lauren Aratani, “US seeing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as cases rise in every state,” Guardian, July 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/16/covid-19-us-delta-variant-unvaccinated; Paul Waldman, “I’m tired of being nice to vaccine refusers,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/27/im-tired-being-nice-vaccine-refusers/; Leana S. Wen, “The CDC needs to make clear: The problem is the unvaccinated,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/29/leana-wen-cdc-mask-guidance-unvaccinated-problem/
  3. [20]Erika D. Smith, “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-28/getting-angry-covid-vaccine-holdouts-white-privilege
  4. [21]David Benfell, “Medical apartheid and COVID-19 vaccinations,” Not Housebroken, May 3, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/26/medical-apartheid-and-covid-19-vaccinations/
  5. [22]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans
  6. [23]Brianna Abbott, “CDC Says New Mask Guidelines Informed by Cape Cod Outbreak,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-says-new-mask-mandate-informed-by-cape-cod-outbreak-11627664465; Yasmeen Abutaleb, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Joel Achenbach, “‘The war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/29/cdc-mask-guidance/; Anne Flaherty and Arielle Mitropoulos, “CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak,” ABC News, July 29, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cdc-mask-decision-stunning-findings-cape-cod-beach/story?id=79148102; Carolyn Y. Johnson, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Joel Achenbach, “CDC study shows three-fourths of people infected in Massachusetts coronavirus outbreak were vaccinated but few required hospitalization,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/30/provincetown-covid-outbreak-vaccinated/
  7. [24]David Benfell, “Lock up the anti-vaxxers,” Not Housebroken, July 27, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/27/lock-up-the-anti-vaxxers/
  8. [25]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans; Erika D. Smith, “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-28/getting-angry-covid-vaccine-holdouts-white-privilege
  9. [26]David Benfell, “Messaging against malice,” Not Housebroken, July 28, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/28/messaging-against-malice/
  10. [27]Erika D. Smith, “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-28/getting-angry-covid-vaccine-holdouts-white-privilege
  11. [28]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Risk for COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalization, and Death By Race/Ethnicity,” July 16, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/investigations-discovery/hospitalization-death-by-race-ethnicity.html
  12. [29]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Risk for COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalization, and Death By Race/Ethnicity,” July 16, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/investigations-discovery/hospitalization-death-by-race-ethnicity.html
  13. [30]David Benfell, “Lock up the anti-vaxxers,” Not Housebroken, July 27, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/27/lock-up-the-anti-vaxxers/
  14. [31]Will Parker, “Logjams Are Keeping Much of $47 Billion in Federal Aid From Renters,” Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/logjams-are-keeping-much-of-47-billion-in-federal-aid-from-renters-11623070800
  15. [32]Associated Press, “Supreme Court rejects plea by landlords to lift federal eviction moratorium,” Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-06-29/supreme-court-leaves-cdc-eviction-moratorium-in-place
  16. [33]Andrew Ackerman, “End of Eviction Moratorium Puts Many Tenants at Risk of Losing Their Homes,” Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/tenants-at-risk-for-eviction-as-pandemic-protections-are-set-to-expire-11627038002; Andrew Ackerman, “Biden Asks Congress to Extend Federal Eviction Moratorium,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-asks-congress-to-extend-federal-eviction-moratorium-11627571409; Sarah Ferris, Heather Caygle, and Katy O’Donnell, “Democratic push to extend eviction moratorium fizzles in the House,” Politico, July 30, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/30/eviction-battle-house-democrats-501758; Jonathan O’Connell et al., “Evictions are about to restart as tenants wait on billions in unspent rental aid,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/30/evictions-moratorium-expire-rental-assistance/; Katy O’Donnell, “‘Down the drain’: Millions face eviction after Biden lets protections expire,” Politico, July 31, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/31/eviction-moratorium-rental-assistance-biden-501917; John Wagner and Tony Romm, “Biden, Democrats mount last-minute effort to extend eviction moratorium,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-urges-congress-to-extend-eviction-moratorium-saying-his-hands-are-tied-by-supreme-court-ruling/2021/07/29/2ed8a52e-f07e-11eb-81d2-ffae0f931b8f_story.html
  17. [34]Melanie Wang, quoted in Katy O’Donnell, “‘Down the drain’: Millions face eviction after Biden lets protections expire,” Politico, July 31, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/31/eviction-moratorium-rental-assistance-biden-501917

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