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Gee & Ursula: Is rolling back or refusing to be vaccinated more harmful?

An outdoor dining setup at a restaurant in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood. (MyNorthwest photo)

More than a dozen counties, including King and Snohomish, are at risk of rolling back to Phase 2 this week, which means places like restaurants and gyms would have to cut their current capacities in half.

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“I’m really tired of discussing rolling back,” KIRO Radio host Gee Scott said. “We need to stop. I think it’s nonsense. … My question would be this: Does rolling back to Phase 2 make things better? Does rolling back to Phase 2 make people want to go get vaccinated, make someone get up and say, ‘you know what, we’re back in Phase 2? Oh man, shucks, let me go and get this vaccination.’ No. Getting everyone vaccinated is what’s going to be making things better.”

Ursula Reutin says that is the argument — that the only way to open everything up is to get more people vaccinated.

“If you’re saying to me that the best way going forward is for us to get vaccinated, and … for more people to get vaccinated, then what does rolling back do?” Gee said.

“Slows down the case counts and the hospitalization rates,” Ursula replied.

“If you look at Ferry County, for example, they voluntarily moved back to Phase 2 of reopening last Friday because the one and only hospital for at least 50 miles in any direction of that county is now filling up with COVID patients. Why? Because the Eagles club in the town of Republic, which is a tiny town, had a big recruiting event with karaoke, drinking, eating, et cetera, and people, many of them, were not wearing masks,” Ursula said. “Then 100 of them came down with COVID. So it wasn’t the governor saying you’ve got to roll back. They weren’t even waiting until today to look at the assessment. They’re like, ‘we can’t deal with this right now.'”

While there are some areas where hospital rates are fine, Ursula says the issue is that we don’t want to get to the point where they’re full.

“We’re going in the wrong direction despite the fact that we have vaccines. And the rollout of the vaccines was slow, but now it’s plentiful,” she said. “So there’s no reason for people not to get it at this juncture.”

Vaccine hesitancy

Gee says he and Ursula have been talking about why it’s important to get vaccinated, and recognizes that vaccine hesitancy is a real problem.

“We have that going on. No doubt about that. More and more. We’re encouraging people to get the vaccination,” he said. “We already have a problem in this country of just, in general, anti-science, anti-authority, anti-everything.”

“That’s where your anger should be directed,” Ursula replied.

But for Gee, he says he’s less angry at the anti-vaxxers than the rollback.

“I am completely in the opposite direction of you on that situation. I agree it feels unfair to make restaurants and gyms pay the price. That is correct. It is unfair,” Ursula said.

She argues the frustration and anger should instead be directed at the people who are arguing against the COVID-19 precautions that have been proven to work, refusing to wear masks or get vaccinated.

“Any time I read a comment section, I see it’s bombarded with all these comments about ‘I’m not going to wear a mask,’ ‘I’m not going to put a diaper on my face,’ ‘I’m not going to get a vaccine for a disease that 99% of the people recover from,'” she noted, adding that she knows four people who got COVID just within the past week.

“Three of them were waiting or they were not planning to get the vaccine, but still took part in risky behavior, and one unfortunately got sick because of exposure to someone who hadn’t taken the necessary precautions,” she said. “So we can belly ache about the rollbacks all we want, but there are people who still are not taking it seriously. Period.”

Rolling back isn’t the solution

“I think you’re absolutely right,” Gee responded. “I think that there are people out here that are very careless. No question. However, in my heart of hearts, I truthfully don’t feel that rolling back is helping this all. To me, all it’s doing to people right now, it’s hurting a small percentage of people. Because here’s the thing, those same people that you’re talking about right now, the same folks, they’re going to continue to do their thing regardless. They’re going to continue to be selfish.”

“They’re going to continue to hurt those small businesses that have nothing to do with it, yes. That’s what is going to happen,” Ursula said.

“But those folks, they aren’t the ones hurting the small businesses, it’s the decisions to roll back that are hurting the small businesses,” Gee argued. “What I’m saying is you’re going to be selfish in phase 1, 2, 3, 17 — it doesn’t matter.”

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The reality, Ursula says, is the move from 50% indoor capacity to 25% doesn’t make much of a difference for a lot of restaurants. She says restaurants she’s visited told her that people have been great, people have been doing takeout, but going down to 25% is only really going to be one less table because they now have outdoor options.

“Get your act together if you’re still refusing to do what you know and what we’ve been talking about now for over a year so that we can fully reopen, because these restaurants are not going to fully recover until you can open 100%,” Ursula said. “50% to 25% will hurt some, but for some, it’s like almost negligible because the capacity doesn’t change that much. Even [former KIRO Radio host and bar owner] Mike Lewis told us the same thing.”

“[Let’s] hope for the best, hope more people get vaccinated,” Gee said. “And let’s just hope that some of these businesses that are holding on, barely, I hope that they can continue. But we’ll see how it goes and we’ll see what the decisions are after today.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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