As Delta Rages, Politicians Play Games With Our Lives

ICU nurse in the pediatric unit at Cox hospital in Springfield, Missouri

Here we are again. Daily COVID case numbers are soaring, with the U.S. averaging over 100,000 new cases per day. Hospitals are filling up, with 44,000 people hospitalized, and now with record numbers of children being admitted. The death toll is rising, with 3500 deaths per week and more than 4,300,000 deaths worldwide.

Some states are seeing record outbreaks. Mississippi has only six open ICU beds. Arkansas has less than twenty. In Florida about 89% of ICU beds are full. In Houston, Texas, pediatric hospitals are full and can no longer admit sick children as of last week. Health care systems are once again being pushed to the breaking point. All of this was predictable and preventable.

Throughout this pandemic, politicians at all levels, and in both parties, have exposed the priorities of the system they protect. They are not interested in protecting the health of the population. All they are concerned about is protecting this economy and their petty careers.

In Florida, as the state experiences its highest rate of infections, especially among children, Governor DeSantis continues to oppose requiring masks in schools. In Texas, with record infections among children, there is no mask mandate in schools, and no mandate requiring schools to notify parents when there is a positive case!

But it is not just Republican governors with blood on their hands. The CDC and the Biden administration still refuse to issue clear mandates for schools. They recommend masks, but do not require them. They recommend testing other students if there is a positive case at a school, but do not require it.

As the Delta variant was ravaging the U.K., India, and Israel, the Biden administration told vaccinated people they could take off their masks, and hoped others would put them on. They were telling people it was safe to get on airplanes, travel around and pretend everything was normal. They just wanted people back at work and spending money so profits would flow again.

And now the Biden administration wants to blame the unvaccinated for this wave of infections. It is true that the vast majority of hospitalizations, around 97%, are among the unvaccinated. And still about 50% of the population is not fully vaccinated. But they are not fully responsible.

Did the Biden administration mobilize any real public health education into communities? No. The best they did was offer some freebies for getting vaccinated. They continue to point to the misinformation spewed all over the internet. But what else is new? Misinformation is always all over the internet.

But what did they actually do to combat any of this? What did they do to answer people’s real concerns and help them understand the realities of this virus? No massive public education outreach was mobilized.

Why should people trust a government that has never cared about them in the first place, a government that lies to them about nearly everything else? Some people need the opportunity to talk with a health care provider they can trust, who will listen to them without judgement and answer all of their concerns. This was never even attempted by the Biden administration, or any politician.

And while the Delta variant ravaged India, and health care professionals begged the U.S. to release the vaccine patents, what did the Biden administration do? Nothing! They offered false promises and sent a paltry amount of vaccines. They let the variant spread around the world. Today still less than 10% of India’s population has been fully vaccinated. And still over 84% of the world has not been fully vaccinated due to the greed of these drug companies whose profiteering off this crisis is protected by the politicians. This low vaccination rate means more lethal variants can be expected in the near future.

They have likely locked in a future of more pandemic surges with new variants that could increasingly get around vaccines. Their criminal negligence, their utter disregard for human life, their entire system has failed us. The daily insecurities of life have been magnified by this pandemic. For many people, everything is in question: secure housing, jobs, food, our children’s education — our health and collective future.

It’s clear that we cannot continue to rely on the politicians and their system. We must begin to rely on our own collective forces in order to protect ourselves.

We can start where we are. We can organize mass public health education throughout our communities and at work. Teachers, students and parents can organize to protect children as they return to school. We can demand that drug companies release the patents and provide vaccines for the world. We can do all of this and more.

No one will do this for us. Our future depends on it.

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