The News Editorial: At a crossroads
August 26, 2021
It has been 16 months since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as a global pandemic.
We have come a long way but there is still a long way to go but I fear this country is at a crossroads.
Let me start by stating I believe in freedom, I believe in personal choice. While I do not support mandating vaccines or the wearing of face masks, I do understand why some businesses and schools (Albany County in Wyoming) are making those decisions. They want to try to make sure people who enter their business or school are healthy so that they can keep others around them safe.
I say we are at a crossroads after listening to many people over the past few weeks, including during the vaccine mandate protest last Wednesday. (More on that below.)
People have dug their heels in on both sides of the vaccine question and on the mask question.
Some don’t like the emergency authorization of the vaccine, however, I do not believe the Food and Drug Administration granting full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday will change those people’s minds about the vaccine.
Both sides believe that science is on their side. Both sides can cite articles proving their beliefs. Are you starting to see the crossroads.
I have heard people say we need to respect one another and each other’s choices but what they really mean is they want people on other side to respect their choice with no intention of respecting the other person’s choice.
I have heard comments “I will never get the vaccine.”
I have heard people who feel everyone should get the vaccine.
Are you seeing the crossroads yet?
The COVID vaccine is one more thing that has further divided this country and mandates are not helping but they are also not the real issue, they are only one aspect of the main issue.
The main issue, I believe, is fear — fear about what COVID-19 can do to loved ones or to you, fear about the impacts of the vaccine and fear about the political aspects of the pandemic.
COVID does have a high survivability but we all know someone who has battled severe symptoms of COVID and some of us know people who have died from COVID.
Those on the anti-vaccine side say they do not know the long-term effects of any of the vaccines. The same can also be said on the other side because we do not know the long-term effects for those who battled COVID long and hard either.
There are many other things about the pandemic that people are afraid of — dying, the short-term affects of the vaccine (four months later no one at the NWN staff who received the vaccine have had any ill effects), fear that freedoms are being eroded away, fear of mandates and loss of health choices, fear of privacy being invaded (vaccine passports reveals to everyone one personal health fact) and much more.
While I believe fear is the main issue driving both sides of the pandemic, the thing most are afraid of is the unknown, fear of what is next regarding the pandemic and people’s response to it.
The crossroads comes as I believe both sides are not going to give in on their beliefs and we may have come as far as we can with the vaccine, with masks and other health protocols.
Some say COVID-19 is something we will have to learn to live with, and that may be true, but we do need to learn to live together with people choosing different ways in which to “live” with COVID. And we truly need to accept their choices not just say we will, but actually do it.
I also believe we can find common ground and fight our fears.
In Isaiah 41:10 (New King James Version) God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Yes I am one who believes that a belief in God and a belief in science are not mutually exclusive.
What the future holds for our country and the world in relation to COVID-19 I do not know, but I do know I choose not to live in fear.
On a side note I want to say I appreciate those who participated in last Wednesday’s protest keeping it peaceful. In a world and society where things can get ugly, and opinions can turn to anger, the protesters simply wanted their voice heard. They were mindful of staying off Banner Health Washakie Medical Center property and if a protester ventured onto the grass or into the entry way, organizers asked them to get back on the sidewalk.
I don’t know if the protest will change anything.
Becky Armendariz, Associate VP, Marketing & Public Relations for Banner Health, told the Northern Wyoming News last week that Banner provided several incentives to team members who received the COVID-19 vaccine, prior to the mandate. The organization provided mileage reimbursement, paid time off to get their shots, points toward its wellness program for insurance discounts and, most recently, a cash drawing for all fully vaccinated employees. Ten team members were selected at random to win $10,000 each.
She said, “We understand that some of our team members are hesitant to get vaccinated. We respect their concerns and are committed to further discussing these concerns with them and providing them with the facts about COVID-19 vaccines. We want all our team members to continue this journey with us come November.”
Armendariz added, “Should any team members choose to leave because of this requirement, we have plans in place to ensure there are no disruptions to care.”
The community heard the message Wednesday and I’m sure individuals at Banner did as well but regarding the corporation I do not believe they will change their policy requiring all employees to be vaccinated Nov. 1.
But, good job to the protesters for exercising their right to free speech, for standing up for what they believe in and for doing it peacefully so that the message did not get lost.