Given our inability to improve building ventilation, have enough masking in enough places, or adopt affordable, widespread rapid testing, we’re going to need them. We’ve seen over the last few weeks how successful mandates have been in getting people vaccinated, including state police in Massachusetts, teachers in New York, and nursing homes in New York, along with a whole slew of businesses.
One thing that typically goes unremarked is the passion by many who are vaccinated to not want to be around co-workers who are unvaccinated, as described in this story about United Airlines decision to be ‘early adopters’ of vaccine mandates (boldface mine):
United executives said they were surprised that positive feedback from politicians, customers and the public far outweighed the criticism it received.
Customers thanked the airline, and job applicants said they were excited to join a company that took employee safety seriously. United has received 20,000 applications for about 2,000 flight attendant positions, a much higher ratio than before the pandemic…
“I did not appreciate the intensity of support for a vaccine mandate that existed, because you hear that loud anti-vax voice a lot more than you hear the people that want it,” Mr. Kirby said. “But there are more of them. And they’re just as intense.”
Regardless of what one thinks about third doses and so on, there is no path to the end of this godawful shitty mess that doesn’t involve widespread vaccination. There are a lot of people–vaccinated people–who want vaccine mandates. Unfortunately, most of them (us, akshually) don’t wave Gadsen flags or threaten public officials, so they’re not taken as seriously. I’m not advocating pro-mandate supporters do that (though, as a thought experiment, it is interesting to consider the response), but we do need to make clear to elected officials that we need far more vaccine requirements.
At the federal level, it’s time for an air travel mandate. The Biden administration needs to grow a fucking pair of balls on this. In addition, there is no reason why any institution that receives HHS funding (or, for that matter, any other grants, such as those from the NSF) should not be required to provide a safe workplace in line with OSHA requirements: that is, all academic institutions that receive such funding should be required to have vaccine mandates. I’m on the fence about K-12 Department of Education funding, since I think Republican states will decide to screw over students instead. And the OSHA requirements need to be applied to workplaces much smaller than 100 workers. The point is, there are a whole bunch levers the Biden administration could be pulling and they need to start pulling them.
At the local and state levels–and here I’m going to focus on D.C. (not Wor-Shing-Tun, but D.C.), here are some things that should be mandated:
- All non-essential ‘point of entry’ activities must require proof of vaccination. While some places might be easier to enforce than others (gyms would be pretty easy, clubs perhaps not so much), this will ‘encourage’ people, especially in the under 40 cohorts, who just aren’t getting vaccinated. D.C. needs to implement this now.
- Since I mentioned the social compact, every D.C. worker who was or would have been eligible for early access to a life-saving vaccine now must be vaccinated. We were willing to protect you from us, now it’s your turn to do the same.
- All students twelve and older should be vaccinated, otherwise they will have remote learning.
- All parents and guardians of students must be vaccinated, otherwise they will have remote learning. This one is so obvious (and yet somehow Mayor Bowser is doing it completely wrong…). Kids will give it to each other, bring it home, and infect their parents.
The last two probably won’t happen in D.C. because Mayor Bowser has decided everyone is going back to school, regardless of the circumstances (the CDC guidelines have really helped assholes like Bowser), but they should.
Mandates do work, but the problem is, as usual, Democrats (Republicans are the lost and the damned on this) refuse to use the power we gave them and govern. So we’re in for a slow burn instead. This is why most state and local politicians do not deserve to be reelected.