They are starting to come again, more frequently now, these chidings, some gentle and others decidedly not, about COVID’s unrelenting threat to our health, and the prospects of ever returning to the time before. Whether it is the Snohomish County health official announcing an indoor mask mandate that took effect Thursday, updates from employers delaying workplace reopenings or worried parents at the park discussing prospects for the school year, this virus continues to stalk us in cruel ways.
Though those of us who are vaccinated are far less likely to get severely ill or die, we still could be a threat to others. We could carry the virus and infect elderly parents, those with compromised immune systems and dear little ones who are too young to get the vaccine’s protection.
Yet, many people are reluctant to get the vaccine, some for legitimate health reasons and some for undefined “personal” reasons. The well-paid Washington State University football coach comes to mind. Some people are skeptical of the government and medical establishment claims and some have been woefully misled for political gain.
Some folks argue they shouldn’t have to reveal to employers what their vaccination statuses are. But then, shouldn’t people who work at the next work station or eat in the same break room know that their colleagues have made that choice? What about parents in fear they will carry home a sneaky breakthrough infection that could seriously harm their child?
Today, The Seattle Times editorial board is advocating for mandated vaccines in government agencies and businesses as a way to finally, once and for all, beat this virus. This is a complex issue and other columnists on our pages offer their perspectives. Fabiola Santiago, a Miami Herald columnist, writes poignantly about the effects on too many Florida children as that state’s governor threatens to cut funds to schools that require masks. Leonard Pitts Jr. and J.M Opal write, respectively, about why some people of color and some people of faith are reluctant to get the vaccines. Meanwhile Noah Feldman, a law professor, talks about the prospects of the first vaccine mandate case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
We are all adjusting again, slipping our masks on for exercise class or just going for a walk instead. Some Seattle restaurants are requiring vaccination proof for customers — no doubt a draw for many who would like that peace of mind. And on Friday, The Eagles started selling tickets to a Seattle concert only fans who can prove their vaccination status can attend.
Could this be the new normal — self-segregation along vaccination lines? Choice is good but such a path poses even greater threats to inequities society needs to counter.
We need to have this out, in our families, with friends and public officials. We want to hear your thoughts. Send an email to email@example.com with the subject line: vaccine mandate
New staff: I’m happy to announce two new members of The Seattle Times editorial board: Luis Carrasco and Alex Fryer.
Carrasco joined us in late June from the Houston Chronicle where he was an editorial writer. Before that, he worked as a reporter and editorial writer at the Arizona Daily Star. He also has been managing editor at Spanish-language publications and a web producer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Tennessee. He was raised in Ciudad Juárez.
He has been a business writer, covered immigration and is a film buff with a dry sense of humor. I cannot wait to read his column about the culture adjustment of moving from red Texas to blue Washington.
On that topic, Carrasco said: “Happy to be in a state where one party doesn’t dominate and imposes its viewpoint on the minority … oh, wait.”
Fryer is a Seattle native who may be familiar to Times readers. He was a reporter here from 1997 to 2007, covering child welfare, courts and Washington, D.C. After he left The Times, he went to work in a variety of communications jobs including for former Mayor Greg Nickels and most recently, for the administration of King County Executive Dow Constantine.
His knowledge of politics in Seattle and around the region will be invaluable to the board. And, readers, don’t worry about him carrying allegiances to former clients or powerful bosses. People who know Fryer well both at The Times and elsewhere attest that he is an independent thinker who likes to challenge the status quo.
“I’m not sure if I’m leaving the dark side or returning to it,” Fryer said about his move. “But I’m looking forward to engaging with readers, advocates, and policymakers from this unique perspective, to try and bring us closer to the community ideals so many of us share.”