As the Delta variant starts to encompass San Diego County and our case numbers rise, I think it’s important to take a step back and look at the data in hopes of returning to normal.
Prior to my time on the Board of Supervisors, I was an airline pilot and an engineer and in all my training I looked at data and evaluated it. As cases rise again, it’s time to look at the data.
Vaccines work well at protecting against COVID-19, including reducing the severity of symptoms that can be caused by the Delta variant, and I encourage everyone who wants one to get one. Of those hospitalized as COVID-19 cases since March 1, 2021, 97.6% were not vaccinated and 2.4% were vaccinated.
Unfortunately, the vaccines aren’t the complete, definitive answer. Israel, which was one of the first countries to inoculate their people, has seen a surge of COVID-19 and has reinstated mask-wearing and quarantine mandates. Stanford University announced last week that they will require weekly COVID-19 testing regardless of vaccination status. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been reported to be just 42% effective against the Delta variant and Dr. Fauci stated last week it is likely that everyone will need a COVID-19 booster shot.
So, where does this leave us? COVID-19 is here to stay. Thankfully, our numbers are nowhere near the peak of last fall and earlier this year. Unfortunately, our hope that a vaccine would allow us to return to normal has not come to fruition. We must learn to live with this virus. We must allow a choice for parents to return kids to in-person learning. We must allow business owners to continue to operate and provide jobs, and we must get the workforce back to work to provide for their families.
As far as businesses mandating vaccines, that’s their choice. I’ve always believed the government should stay out of the way when it comes to telling business owners how to operate. I thought the government mandating business closures in 2020 went too far. Similarly, I’m not one to tell businesses how to open. Let the consumers decide. If people want to go to a business that requires customers to be vaccinated, let them. If people don’t want to, let them also.
I’m against workplaces mandating vaccines for their employees, as you’re forcing people to choose between getting inoculated or providing for their family. I’m glad to see most entities (like the County of San Diego) allowing the option to be COVID tested weekly for anyone not vaccinated rather than mandatory vaccines.
If you test negative, you return to the office, if you test positive you stay home.
We must change our mindset and realize that COVID-19 is here to stay, whether it’s the Delta variant or any other variant. COVID-19 may start to look more like the yearly flu, where a shot is needed to ward off a new variant. Regardless of what the future may hold, COVID-19 will be around for a long time, and it’s time we all learn to live with this virus.
Jim Desmond represents District 5 on the County Board of Suypervisors