It’s only early January, and already this 2022 thing is obviously not working out. With the “omicron variant” of COVID-19 upon us, politicians and public health authorities are already off on their next round of COVID-19 Hokey Pokey:
You put your school closures in. You pull your mask mandates out. You put your rising case numbers in, and you shake them all about. You do the COVID-19 Hokey Pokey and you order people around. That’s what it’s all about.
A successful COVID-19 Hokey Pokey this time around requires ignoring the fact that, even allowing for a lag between case numbers and deaths, the latter aren’t increasing.
From December 1 thru December 30, 2021, daily reported cases of COVID-19 (according to Worldometer’s COVID-19 dashboard) in the United States rose from 123,430 to 450,298. During the same period, daily reported COVID-19 deaths fell from 1,697 to 1,584.
Yes, all of those numbers are bad things. But they’re not WORSE things than the pre-omicron COVID-19 landscape. They’re BETTER things. If we “trust the science,” or at least the data, here’s what it’s telling us: Omicron is the next evolutionary step along COVID-19’s path from deadly pandemic to endemic inconvenience.
The data may change. But, despite a month of smug warnings from the usual suspects — just wait for that lag, COVID-19 is going to GET YOU unless you DO AS YOU’RE TOLD! — it hasn’t yet. Unless it does, President Joe Biden’s prediction of “a winter of severe illness and death” isn’t in the cards.
Here’s the problem:
As the 20 years since the 9/11 attacks have shown us, many Americans are willing to embrace authoritarian rule for as long as politicians are willing and able to curry abject fear — even long after such fear has proven itself unjustified.
With COVID-19, many Americans have graduated from that willingness to, well, eagerness.
They’ve spent the last two years hanging on every pronouncement as to what (and who) they should fear, waiting with bated breath and unconcealed glee for the order to hide under the bed again.
And, evidence or not, they’re downright insistent that we must all spend another year cowering in terror with them.
It seems to me that this is one of those rare cases where Congress might prove itself useful. When the House convenes its second session of the 117th Congress on January 10, it should promptly introduce and pass the Pandemic Saving Time Act of 2022. The Senate should immediately follow suit and get the bill to President Biden for his signature, stat.
Under the Pandemic Saving Time Act, at 2am on Saturday, January 15, all Americans will roll their calendars forward one year to January 15, 2023.
We can all pretend we spent another year obsessing over COVID-19, satisfying the eager beavers.
But we won’t have to actually do so, satisfying those of us who are sick of the COVID-19 Hokey Pokey.
The politicians and bureaucrats can make up stories about how they took the “tough” and “necessary” measures, but we won’t suffer another year of scurrying to comply with their bizarre, ever-shifting dictates.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.