(CNN) — It has not finished. Nor is it close to over. If Joe Biden’s July 4 fireworks marked a time to declare the end of the pandemic’s darkest days, Monday was the day it became a reality that the nation’s fight against COVID-19 is receding. quickly in the wrong direction.
There is a glimpse of a hybrid version of American life that will pass through normalcy for the foreseeable future, in which most of those vaccinated live and many of those who refuse vaccines become ill or die.
In a moment of stark symbolism, the American Academy of Pediatrics released the new school guide on wearing face masks on Monday in the frustrated hopes that children who had been stolen a part of their childhood by COVID-19 could return to life. carefree school this fall. The prospect of millions of children over the age of 2 covering their faces in class epitomized how the nation is still under siege. It is also likely to unleash another political culture war in some Republican states that abhor wearing face masks and have banned schools from seeking to protect the vulnerable in such ways.
In another blow to the national psyche on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 700 points in its biggest drop of the year as the alarm about virulent delta infections hit travel, leisure and energy stocks that had been squeezed by the idea of a summer of freedom.
The uncertainty of the Olympics
And at the same time, the eyes turned to Tokyo, where more worries loom. Very often, the Olympics forge a cathartic national unity thanks to athletes inspired to go faster, higher and stronger. Rarely has such a moment been needed so much. But these Games are unlikely to offer that sense of escape, as they often do: a glow of reflected glory for the White House.
Instead, First Lady Jill Biden’s trip to Japan later this week will likely underscore the risk that these Olympics will be defined by the ongoing pandemic, as positive tests cloud Friday’s opening ceremony, including the positive test from a young American gymnast.
Still, the fact that the greatest sporting spectacle on Earth continues, without the crowds, represents another moment for humanity seeking a recognizable semblance of life with the pandemic still raging.
All of these developments, in many cases, represented an understanding that hopes that the virus would be in the rearview mirror this summer were unfounded and that some kind of new national effort is warranted.
“If we don’t get a significant proportion of these recalcitrant people vaccinated, we will see a latent outbreak in our country for a considerable period of time,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, told him. to CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Monday.
Canada takes the lead in the covid-19 vaccine race
The sense of a nation still far from normal was highlighted by the news that Canada, which suffered a brutal spring amid a vaccine shortage, surpassed the US in the percentage of adults fully vaccinated. Unlike much of the United States, there is little politicization of vaccines north of the border.
In another reminder of how Covid-19 is still reshaping the world, Washington warned citizens not to visit the UK. It was after England lifted all restrictions despite growing cases of the virus.
The miracle of vaccines – 48.6% of Americans are fully protected and there are especially high levels of vaccination among the elderly populations – means that the United States is not in the trouble it was a year ago.
But the refusal of many citizens to receive their vaccinations, a trend deepened by conservative misinformation, means that many Americans face much more misery to come, even as many of their compatriots rebuild their lives.
Things did not improve Sunday when former President Donald Trump, who seems more willing to deepen mistrust of Biden than to convince his herd to get the vaccines he helped develop, added to the heap of vaccine propaganda.
Dr. Richard Besser, former Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC) told CNN on Monday that it believed that many people who are not vaccinated will end up infected with the delta variant “given how contagious it is, and also given that you are seeing concentrations of people who were not vaccinated living together.”
The surreal feeling of a nation caught in a strange late-covid limbo will be exacerbated on Tuesday by scenes of another billionaire, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, preparing to blast off the unhealthy planet in a personal rocket.
Covid-19 ‘dormant’ outbreaks
Fauci described the new reality of the nation as “really unfortunate, because what everyone wants in this country, and in other parts of the world, is to be able to crush this outbreak in the sense of obtaining the level of vaccination so high that the virus does not have where to go”.
While all Americans face a dilemma in terms of the risks they will take, and how far back to normal in terms of family and work life, the new phase of the covid crisis presents a particular challenge for Biden.
Presidents are defined by how they respond to the crises they face, and Biden has done nearly everything possible to fulfill his self-proclaimed mission when he took office to end the pandemic, including pleading with millions of skeptical Americans to get vaccinated before Let the delta variant come for them.
But it’s hard to see what strategic change the president can engineer to improve the situation in the short term. Conservative propaganda threatens to undermine government outreach efforts designed to commercialize life-saving vaccines. Shaking Republican voters who don’t trust him, minorities who believe past vaccine efforts were biased against them, and skepticism from rural Americans, who haven’t seen much covid-19 and think they don’t need to get vaccinated, is little. likely to be achieved with another presidential speech.
Biden’s concern about misinformation
The president, who will appear on a CNN forum Wednesday night, took a step back from his claim last week that social media companies like Facebook were “killing people” with disinformation, which seemed to betray the frustration of that his efforts were undermined by things beyond his control.
“Facebook is not killing people; these 12 people are giving wrong information. Anyone who hears them is hurting themselves. It is killing people. It is bad information,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday.
He appeared to be citing data from the Center to Counter Digital Hate (CCDH), a nonprofit organization, which in March indicated that about a dozen people were super-spreaders of anti-vaccine misinformation.
It was unclear why Biden backed down. But waging a disinformation war against Facebook may not be the most productive way to temper vaccine skepticism, especially at a time when the pandemic is worsening.
More than 32,000 new cases of covid-19 have been reported per day during the last week, a 66% increase from last week and a 145% increase from two weeks ago.
With such grim numbers, Monday’s day of accountability was perhaps overdue.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism