Rantz: Seattle COVID cases surge as vaccine mandate, passports fail miserably
Jan 2, 2022, 6:00 PM
King County and Seattle vaccine mandates and passports are failures. COVID cases are surging in the county, driven by Seattle. The positive case rate has never been higher.
But the public was told that the vaccine would stop this very development. Instituted by politicians and public health officials, the mandate and passports were pushed as a way to keep people free from COVID. Success, by the standards of public officials, was always futile.
The policies were destined to fail because public officials never updated their talking points or goals while instituting them. They pretend the vaccine prevents infection and spread. They ignore concepts of herd immunity and the reality of omicron. And we’re paying the price in more ways than one.
Mandates were always going to fail
For King County Executive, former Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, or Public Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the goal was always to get as many vaccines in arms as possible.
Along with national leaders, they gave the impression that the vaccine stops COVID from spreading. They didn’t care about side effects or one’s philosophical or religious objections. And they blindly assumed the vaccine would protect from all variants of COVID.
Constantine and Duchin require a vaccine passport system with a promise that it “will protect customers and workers through providing safer spaces.” Similarly, Durkan claimed a vaccine mandate is crucial to doing “all we can to protect the community, our children, and city workers from COVID-19.”
Omicron shows just how wrong they were.
Tests? What tests?
Though the county and city vaccine mandate didn’t offer up a testing option to accommodate the unvaccinated (though ironically, they now offer testing to SPD and SFD vaccinated staff), you can present a negative test to attend a large event or business that requires vaccination. But there’s limited testing now.
Despite the push for testing, Seattleites have few chances to get one. The city’s contracted provider of free tests, Curative, canceled tests for the last few days of the year. They cited the holiday as if they didn’t know it was coming.
And UW Medicine is shutting down a handful of testing locations and limiting others because the test positivity rate is too high.
Good luck finding a take-home test at a local drug store. They’re mostly sold out. After complaining about a lack of testing, President Joe Biden’s administration did nothing to address it beyond stating the importance of testing you can’t buy.
Cases have never been higher
COVID cases in King County continue to reach record daily highs. On December 30, the county reached a daily average of 1,936. That was a 145% increase in the previous seven days.
Yet nearly 82% of the county’s COVID-eligible population is fully vaccinated.
While politicians attack the unvaccinated, with Governor Jay Inslee referring to them as domestic terrorists, this isn’t a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Roughly 40% of the COVID-positive cases are coming from the vaccinated.
In fact, Seattle is leading the way in cases despite an over 90% vaccination rate. Seattleites are still posting the same selfie from a vaccination site to virtue signal their superiority over the unvaccinated — while sitting with asymptomatic COVID.
Vaccinations appear to have little impact in stopping omicron. And due to asymptomatic omicron spread, it’s spreading quickly.
Vaccines do, however, decrease your chances of having symptomatic COVID or a case that lands you in the hospital. It’s a great selling point for the vaccine, which is why I am vaccinated. It’s also why the focus should be on hospitalization and deaths, not cases. But our stubborn leaders won’t change course.
Massive failures come with consequences but no apologies or course correction
The vaccine mandates and passport strategies were massive failures. But county and city leadership won’t reverse course. With incoming mayor Bruce Harrell, nothing here will likely change
COVID cases are savaging the Seattle Fire and Police departments, despite both staffs being fully vaccinated. It’s cutting already short-staffed departments. Yet the unvaccinated employees, or those who refuse to turn over paperwork, are still in the process of being fired (or have already been fired).
And the vaccine passports are impacting local businesses. Not everyone wants to show private medical paperwork to go out to eat or to see a movie. Others ditch restaurants or gyms in King County for Pierce and Snohomish, which do not require vaccine passports.
If the vaccines don’t stop omicron, why fire the unvaccinated? If it doesn’t stop the spread, why continue with vaccine passports? Ego.
Politicians and public health officials will never admit they were wrong. And they certainly won’t apologize for the harm they caused. They’ll deflect blame when they feel they can. But first, they’ll have to update their talking points due to omicron. They seem resistant.
Omicron requires different talking points
Now that it appears clear that omicron evades vaccines, the only shift from promoting vaccinations at all costs is back to the hospitalization rate. But the rhetoric doesn’t match the data.
The COVID hospitalization rate is extremely low in King County. As of December 29, only 6.5% of county hospital beds were occupied by patients with COVID. And of the people who stay in the hospital due to omicron, their lengths are shorter than with delta. These are nowhere near emergency levels.
But fearmongers can’t celebrate. They must always keep the next threat alive so they can control you.
Despite the low hospitalization rate, Duchin warns via Twitter, “the extremely high number of cases could lead to overload of the healthcare system as happening elsewhere, compromising the medical care we need when we need it.”
Indeed, it could lead to an overload. But there’s no evidence to suggest it would. And if it did, that would be a failure by Duchin and others to focus the conversation on the very efficacious treatments we have. But even just a few months ago, doctors didn’t understand monoclonal antibodies as a treatment. And the Biden administration has, again, dropped the ball on encouraging production and ultimately distribution.
Using hospitalization rate (or death rate) as a metric is a clearly wise move. We will all eventually get omicron making a focus on case rate silly given how mild the variant is for most people. But you have to be honest about the new metric.
Omicron should reset the conversation
Omicron offers up mild, cold-like symptoms. It’s not leading to worst-case scenarios of death and hospital overruns. That we have a weakened variant of a virus that will never go away should be treated with relief, not more fearmongering. It gets us to herd immunity and, perhaps, an even weaker variant.
Omicron should be used to reset the strategies in a county with an already exceptionally high vaccination rate. It’s time to admit the mandates and passports don’t work at stopping the spread.
Acknowledging the reality and shifting the conversation around COVID doesn’t mean you have to give up on vaccines. Indeed, it should always be a part of the conversation.
But with effective treatment, including new pills coming to the market that show remarkable results, we should be headed back to our normal lives. It’s just too bad the Democrats in charge don’t want us going back to a time they had less control over us.
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