We have our second shots but the pandemic is far from over

We have had two COVID-19 shots in our arms but we still have masks on our faces and they will stay there for as long as needed

We sat in our car Thursday and received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Both Amy and I now have cards in our wallets confirmed we are vaccinated. According to other information provided, our protection against the deadly virus should be at least 94 percent about five days from now.

Our second shots came on the street at the back of the Dedmon Center of Radford University shortly before noon Thursday. Because our car had handicapped plates, a police officer directed us to the designated “drive-through” and the entire procedure was finished in less than 30 minutes.

Afterward, we had a long, pleasurable lunch at the Hunan House restaurant in Christiansburg, where we encountered a Floyd County friend who still believes COVID-19 is all a hoax and who says he has no intention of getting any vaccine shots.

On the drive back to Floyd, we talked about those who still think the virus of a government and media-driven conspiracy for exerting more control of people.

At our age, we have lived through conspiracy theories that date back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We remember those who claimed the Apollo moon landings were fake creations in a studio somewhere in a desert. And, of course, we have those who claim that the World Trade Center came down because of explosives planted in the buildings and no planes hit the twin towers in New York or the Pentagon outside of Washington, DC, on Sept. 11, 2001.

I was at the Pentagon on a terrible day, photographed the carnage, inhaled the stench of jet aircraft fuel and burning flesh while photographing and interviewing those who saw the airliner slam into the building. Yet now, nearly two decades later, I listen to those who swear the whole thing was a giant hoax perpetrated by an American government who wanted to go to war.

As a newspaperman, I have seen too many cases where wars and the causes for them have been manipulated by our government. The Pentagon Papers proved how a government that knew it could not win continued to claim victory was possible if we just spent more money and allowed more American soldiers to die in battle.

We watched President George W. Bush lie outright about “weapons of mass destructions” hoarded by Sadam Hussein as a reason to invade Iraq. Turns out the weapons didn’t exist tne the claims were manufactued by those who profit by war.

Such misuse of public trust came to light because of whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsburg and the work of a media like The New York Times and Washington Post. The lies about revealed the claimed “weapons of mass destruction” were actually “weapons of mass distraction ” came from the goverment and military investigators who found no such weapons existed and reports, again, from the media, who investigated the issue.

An order to bomb as supposed weapons factory in Iraq turned out to be a warehouse storing medical supplies.

But not all actions are conspiracies and the effort to discredit outstrips the truth and reality.

When it comes to COVID-19, those who claim this is a hoax, presume that governments worldwide, including the same ones who disagree and fight over just about everything, are part of a giant hoax. Perpetuating a hoax on that level requires massive cooperation among governments who agree of little or nothing. The deaths of 2.9 million people worldwide are not the work of the “flu.” Neither are the 573,508 who have died in America or the 10,279 in Virginia or the 20 deaths in Floyd.

When we find misinformation in today’s society, it doesn’t take long to chase it down and find it began as a rapid claim by Q’anon or an opportunistic politician, a rabid-right propagandist like Sean Hannity or even a Floyd County resident who owns two Christiansburg residents and is running for governor as a “Trump in high heels.”

Some medical experts fear a “fourth wave” of COVID-19 infections is possible because of states that are relaxing restrictions because of the vaccinations too quickly or put politics above the safety of their citizens.

Infections in Virginia are running close to 2,000 cases a day, with 1,928 new infections in Thursday’s report, along with 557 hospitalized (the highest rate in more than a month) and 157 deaths, also a large increase.

At our house, even with a second shot, we will not leave it without donning a mask and practice social distancing, a hard thing to do when others show up in public without masks an huddle together like pre-pandemic days.

Are we out of danger? The Washington Post reports;

The data doesn’t look good. After weeks of decline, the average number of new coronavirus infections reported each day is higher than it’s been in a month. The number of people in hospitals with covid-19 has been stubbornly stagnant since mid-March. And even as highly contagious virus variants spread, state leaders are relaxing safety precautions.

Last Sunday, coronavirus task force adviser Michael T. Osterholm told Meet the Press that he fears the coming weeks could bring “the highet number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pndemic.”

“In terms of the United States, we’re just at the beginning of this surge,” said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the Post. “We haven’t even really begun to see it yet.”

This week has shown growth in the numbers, including increases in deaths.

This serious threat, it appears, is not over.