Roach Op Ed: ‘Isn’t it about time? The world has lost more than 5 million people.’

"Despite the efficacy of the vaccines, there are still millions of Americans who resolutely deny the science and refuse to get what they snidely call 'the jab.'"
putting samples in vials
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This piece appears in the February issue of Madison Magazine. This opinion editorial written by John Roach does not reflect the opinions of Madison Magazine or Channel 3000.

Isn’t it about time?

The world has lost more than 5 million people.

America is inching toward a million dead.

Medical science miraculously developed COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, administering more than 8 billion doses worldwide to date. The vaccines are remarkable only for their effectiveness and minimal side effects.

And yet, despite the efficacy of the vaccines, there are still millions of Americans who resolutely deny the science and refuse to get what they snidely call “the jab.”

Worse yet, the anti-science zealots mock medical experts with blatant disdain for objective facts, while exhibiting an endless belief in crazy conspiracies. In doing so, they help the virus and its variants proliferate wave after wave, wreaking havoc with our health care system, our economy, our jobs and our daily lives.

As the deniers of science spew their script, doctors, nurses and medical staffers are working themselves to the bone, paying a daily price for the willful ignorance of others. They are forced to care for those who did not have to get sick, if only they had believed in the simple practice of masking, social distancing and getting vaccinated.

It’s interesting how people deny medical science but then come running to it when their lungs no longer allow them to bray vaccine conspiracies.

And now, left to muscle through a third wave of the virus, are the rest of us. You know, the ones who believe in science. Who accept the obligation we have to ourselves and the public good by getting vaccinated and boosted. Who understand that doing so is not a private health decision, but a public health imperative. Who realize that beating a pandemic is a team sport.

David Wahlberg of the Wisconsin State Journal recently wrote a compelling piece on how rural clinics and hospitals in the Medford area are “burning on the inside” due to a new explosion of COVID-19 cases. The reason? Taylor County’s vaccination rate is a paltry 34%.

And so everyone must pay the price for the ignorance of a few.

We have canceled our weddings, funerals, holiday gatherings and baptisms.

We have had our jobs change or vanish.

We have stressed our schools, teachers and parents to the limit.

We have been unable to get the health care we need because clinics and hospitals are packed with those who don’t believe in the very science being used to save their lives.

So, isn’t it time to change things?

Isn’t it time for a pandemic triage plan?

Here’s a start. We could decree that those who are vaccinated, and preferably boosted, get priority status at clinics and hospitals. If you are unvaccinated, you are low priority. You can’t come running for help from the medical science you mock. This is already a common practice in health care, the best example being active alcoholics that are disqualified from liver transplants.

A more Draconian solution would be to rent warehouses for the unvaccinated who present COVID-19 symptoms. We could provide humanitarian aid in the form of cots, sheets, food and water, while the anti-vaxxers allow their “natural immune systems” to combat a novel coronavirus, ignoring the interesting fact that we have no immunity to new viruses. We could also provide the stricken with dewormer ointment.

And we should do one other thing.

We should make it a law that unvaccinated citizens must wear a red clown nose.

This would allow the public to identify pandemic deniers and protect themselves in social settings where they amble about unvaccinated.

The noses could be made available at Walgreens, Walmart, Target, Kwik Trip and everywhere red clown noses are sold.

If we can wear a mask, they can at least wear a clown nose.

John Roach, a Madison-based screenwriter and producer, writes this column monthly. Reach him at