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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Is covid here to stay?

Messages change again January 12, 2022 at 4:02 a.m.

"No, I don't think covid is here to stay. But having covid, in the environment here and the world, is probably here to stay. Covid, as we're dealing with it now, is not here to stay. The new normal doesn't have to be."

--President Joe Biden, last week

Did everybody catch that? This president isn't quite Eisenhower enough to make an art out of confusing the bad guys. And being incoherent may confuse the Red Chinese over Quemoy and Matsu in the 1950s, or even over Taiwan today, but it's not an effective strategy for battling a virus. The current president is going to have to do better than this.

If we have things right--and there is a good chance we do not, considering the multiple messaging--then the administration is prepping We the People to get used to the virus, no matter what you might have read above.

Several of the president's former health advisers--those who helped him mold a set of policies after his election--took to the press this last week to call for a New Normal in the nation's approach to the coronavirus. Other countries are trying a let's-just-get-used-it plan, the way most countries plan for the yearly flu. The president's former advisers wrote essays in The Journal of the American Medical Association and recommended dozens of strategies. The goal for this New Normal doesn't have to include elimination of the disease, they said.

A year ago, the president vowed to defeat the virus. But plans always change on meeting the enemy. And it's easier to run for office than to govern in office. The Wall Street Journal reports that the administration--we suppose the president needs to be included in that--is prepping Americans to accept the virus as part of life. Like other ailments. Which sounds a lot like what Trumpers used to say at the beginning of this whole thing.

"The administration has sought to convey in appearances by the president and briefings with top officials that many Americans will be infected with covid-19," The Journal wrote, "but that those who are vaccinated have no reason to panic. 'You can control how big an impact omicron is going to have on your health,' Mr. Biden said. 'We're seeing covid-19 cases among [the] vaccinated in workplaces across America, including here at the White House. But if you're vaccinated and boosted, you are highly protected.'"

That much we understand. We also understand various stories coming out of the media, reporting how sick and tired (more tired than sick) most Americans have become of the daily warnings about covid-19. And the mixed messages that seem to mix so frequently. First the federal government was going to be all-hands-on-deck to defeat the disease that Donald Trump couldn't. Then the disease wouldn't be beat with federal power. At one time the president defended teachers unions for keeping schools shut. Now the administration says to keep them open. Once upon a time, the previous president didn't take the virus seriously enough. Now the current president's top health advisers have said the emphasis should be on preventing disruptions to the economy and society.

And omicron is supposed to be much more contagious than previous variants. But with milder illnesses. So should we be very afraid? Or just concerned? The administration should answer those questions with: Yes.

This pandemic will kill hundreds of thousands of Americans this year. About 9 out of 10 of them will be unvaccinated. As the administration has (correctly) said, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. For those folks, they should be very afraid. That seems to be the best message the administration could run with. If it only would.


Print Headline: Here to stay?

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