August has long been the best month of the year to escape the daily grind and forget our worries.
It’s been a great month to hit the beach or take a long road trip and forget, for just a little while, the inanities of our increasingly angry and divided politics.
But not anymore.
The COVID bug, which for 18 months has decimated our economy and disrupted our daily lives, is making a “delta variant” comeback.
Just like the bad guy Jason in the “Friday the 13th” movies, the coronavirus simply will not die, keeping all of us in a state of worry, agitation and division.
Our separation into warring political tribes is being both driven and highlighted by the daggone variant, which WebMD.com reports is “now the dominant strain in the U.S.”
The delta variant is a COVID-19 mutation that isn’t as deadly as the original bug but it spreads much more quickly.
“The strain has mutations on the spike protein that make it easier for it to infect human cells,” says WebMD.com. “That means people may be more contagious if they contract the virus and more easily spread it to others.”
WebMD further reports that people who have not been vaccinated are more likely to be infected by this strain — that U.S. communities with low vaccination rates have seen a jump in cases.
But, in these wildly divisive times, the COVID vaccine has become another political football.
Crazy conspiracy theories abound.
A study by the YouGuv.com marketing company, reports the Insider, found that 20 percent of Americans believe that it is “definitely true” or “probably true” that there is a microchip implanted in the COVID-19 vaccines.
Wacky conspiracy theories are not the public’s only source of misinformation.
Our government leaders and public health experts have also sewn distrust with their “evolving” advice on masks, off-and-on-again lockdowns and the danger to school kids.
New York Times columnist Brett Stephens is critical of misinformation presented by immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci pertaining to herd immunity and other COVID truths.
"The impact of this misinformation on everyday life has been immense …” Stephens argued. “The credibility of public-health experts depends on the understanding that the job of informing the public means offering the whole truth, uncertainties included, rather than offering Noble Lies in the service of whatever they think the public needs to hear."
As a result of this failure to communicate clearly and straightforwardly, 93 million Americans who are eligible to get the vaccine have not gotten it, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
A lot of people say they are refusing to get the vaccine for reasons that have nothing to do with their politics or microchip implants, as the New York Times reports.
The top reasons, says the Times, were that they were worried about the vaccine’s side-effects. They are waiting to see if it is safe and didn’t trust vaccines or the government.
Alas, gone are the days when a tragic event or crisis brings us together.
Here to stay, I worry, is the incredible political polarization with which we now respond to all of our problems.
What our country could use this August is a long week relaxing at the beach, where we can try to restore our ability to calmly and intelligently work out our challenges.
Copyright 2021 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at [email protected]