As the United States commemorates the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, we continue to be threatened by another enemy — COVID-19 — that has killed more than 650,000 Americans since early 2020.
In June of 2021, after we ramped up the vaccination rate and lowered new infection cases to 11,000 per day, we were almost there when could almost taste the victory against the invisible enemy after .
In the summer of 2021, we were able to reclaim many of the liberties we collectively gave up to save lives — until we, the majority of Americans, 7 out of 10 of us who chose to be vaccinated with at least one dose, got hijacked by the minority, who refuse to take the life-saving shots.
As of press time, we are back to more than 160,000 new cases a day, which leads to more hospitalization and death. These are mostly (99%) cases involving UNVACCINATED people. Sadly, one out of four new cases are children, and as schools have opened for in-person instruction, the infection rates escalate even faster.
This is so unfortunate because the world used to look up to the United States of America for leadership in controlling and eradicating infectious diseases worldwide, and yet we are now struggling and are lagging way behind other developed and industrialized countries in terms of the vaccination rate. The European Union (EU) has downgraded the U.S. to “high risk” amid the surge in cases and the stalled vaccination rate.
What is paradoxical is the fact that these three out of ten Americans who refuse to be vaccinated share the same collective aspirations of the majority of us — to save lives, to go back to our normal life again, to be free to enjoy our liberties, but it seems their choices and action do not move to the direction of their most fervent prayers.
We would understand the concerns and reservations they have against getting inoculated when the vaccines were being administered on “emergency use authorization.” But now that Pfizer has been granted full approval following strict scientific protocols, the resistance against getting the shots remains among the minority.
But know this — when we talk about public health and safety, there is no “minority” vs “majority”, no “blue state” and “red state” because, in a pandemic, we are all in this together — sink or swim.
This is why many of us felt “catharsis” when we heard the President of the United States spoke out the truth we all have been feeling and wanted to shout out for a long time in this prolonged war against COVID-19.
”We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said in his televised message to the American people on Thursday, September 9.
Our hospitals and healthcare workers are again overwhelmed, operating beyond capacity, which threatens the ability of our health care system to take care of patients in need of critical care and surgery to save their lives.
We cannot fully rebuild our everyday lives, businesses, schools, while we are still in the war zone against COVID.
The vaccines and testing are available to us Americans, something that people from less fortunate countries like the Philippines can only hope and pray for. But why can’t we all, on our own resolve, do what is right and what is for the safety and survival of all of us?
Have we not heard the regrets of unvaccinated people who were dying of COVID, hoping they have had the shots that could have saved their lives? Have we not seen how the unvaccinated are the ones dying of COVID-19, while the vaccinated ones remain protected — and even if they get infected, the vaccinated are spared from fatal symptoms that lead to hospitalization and death? You can’t make these up. These are verifiable facts if we only open our eyes!
We are in the warzone. In times of war, we surrender our personal liberties for the protection of the country or we all perish. Our Commander-in-Chief is duty bound to use all available weapons in our arsenal to help save the lives of the American people. This is when public institutions and businesses step up and do proactive measures to give the American people a better chance to win this war.
KUDOS to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which will now require all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 10. LAUSD is the first major school district in the United States to mandate the vaccination for eligible students, and hopefully, more will follow. Kudos to private businesses who have already did what they needed to do to save the lives of their employees and the people they serve.
THANK YOU, President Biden for laying out a national plan that will be our marching order and war strategy to defeat the invisible enemy.
As the White House reported: “President Biden is implementing a six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy that employs the same science-based approach that was used to successfully combat previous variants of COVID-19 earlier this year. This plan will ensure that we are using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting our economy from lockdowns and damage.”
The Biden administration’s efforts, initiatives, and policies — have resulted in over 175 million fully vaccinated Americans. But there are still nearly 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten their first shot.
The president’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements—these requirements will become dominant in the workplace. In addition, the plan will provide paid time off for vaccination for most workers in the country.
The plan will be:
- Requiring All Employers with 100+ Employees to Ensure their Workers are Vaccinated or Tested Weekly
- Requiring Vaccinations for all Federal Workers and for Millions of Contractors that Do Business with the Federal Government
- Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations for Over 17 Million Health Care Workers at Medicare and Medicaid Participating Hospitals and Other Health Care Settings
- Calling on Large Entertainment Venues to Require Proof of Vaccination or Testing for Entry
- Requiring Employers to Provide Paid Time Off to Get Vaccinated
(To be continued)
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.