Last week the St. Louis Cardinals split a two-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays. They did so with no contributions from All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Their Gold Glove cornerstone sluggers did not make the trip because they are not allowed into Canada because they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

          Yes, two-and-a-half years of pandemic pandemonium and more than a million American deaths offer no evidence to dissuade them from their selfish specialness to do anything that might protect themselves, their loved ones, their teammates, older coaches, other ballplayers, their fans or any random person they might encounter.

          Just before the All-Star break, the Kansas City Royals traveled north of the border without eight of their players. With a largely minor league lineup, they did manage one win in four games. Two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield endeared himself to KC fans by opining that, well, if he were traded to a contender, he mightmaybe  get that scary shot if there were a chance of a playoff game in Toronto.

          This year’s Royals All-Star Andrew Benintendi also missed the trip. Since then, he has been traded to the Yankees, but no word yet on whether he might get vaccinated as a playoff precaution.

          Then, of course, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving wrecked what was supposed to be an NBA superteam last year by refusing to get vaccinated though that disqualified him from his team’s home games because of local requirements.

          Lousy teammates. I’ll let someone who did not play ball with some of the smartest guys in school make the comment about dumb jocks. Besides, it is not just well-paid athletes who have been asserting their specialness since early 2020.

          Thanks to an anti-science ignoramus who was once our president, taking a personal stand against common sense and your community has become a badge of honor – though sometimes a headstone. Trumpistas demonstrate blind loyalty to someone whose lies about and neglect of the COVID-19 emergence demonstrated a total disregard for their lives and well-being.

          It has been estimated that about a third of our million COVID deaths could have been prevented with pre-vaccine precautionary measures, vaccines once available and simple signs of neighborly solidarity such as wearing a mask.

          Yet, the voices of disinformation, misinformation and outright lies – many of whom vaccinated themselves to remain employed – keep spewing their death chants in the name of God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to not give a damn about anyone but oneself. Then, they will be sure to tell you what fine Christians they are. Yeah, they’re praying for you – or preying on your gullibility.

          As of July 28, Oklahoma’s 19 percent weekly increase in COVID cases showed us at 44 cases per 100,000 people. Along with 42 other states we are considered in the red (highest) zone by the National Public Radio COVID monitor.

          As forecast by those annoying, fact-toting scientists, cases have fallen in the Northeast, which experienced a spring surge.

          Oklahoma had been lurking beneath that most dangerous category, but we, too, have managed to get to the point of “unchecked community spread.”

          And this summer, as in the past, county commissioners across the state – who claimed they could not infringe upon individual rights to set any lifesaving health measures – have responded to high temperatures and drought conditions to impose property-protecting burn bans. Priorities noted.

          Since January, 2020, Oklahoma had reported 1,120,934 cases and 16,252 deaths.      Unfortunately, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s immediate resistance to all things health-oriented, accurate reporting included, means that the real death count is probably higher.

          Fortunately, with more people getting double vaccinations and double boosters, the number of total cases is also probably higher because those people so protected are less likely to seek medical treatment.

          Those who are better protected are more likely to have milder symptoms. Most of the people hospitalized these days are unvaccinated, and the Center for Disease Control’s June COVID Data Tracker concluded that, “People who were unvaccinated had a greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and a greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated overall.”

          That “testing positive” comment points to one of the more spurious spewings by Trump loyalists. They claim that responsible vaccination does not prevent people from getting the disease.

          The statement is meaningless. You cannot prove a negative.

          Some vaccinated people did get infected, but since vaccinated people who get infected suffer lighter symptoms, it sounds reasonable that some would-be infections were stopped by the vaccines. But, it cannot be proven.

          Just as you cannot say that a vaccine stopped an infection, you cannot say that it always failed to do so either. It is an old axiom: the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

          Those still blathering anti-vax, anti-mask “independence” should take a good look in their  mirrors while brushing their teeth and ask themselves just how many unnecessary deaths did their wretched rhetoric promote.

          (Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Pandemic lingers; ignorance also

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