This week I drove my husband for his first Covid shot at a FEMA vaccination site in downtown Los Angeles.
It was at L.A. City College and during our circuitous 15-minute maneuver through the campus we passed any number of friendly young military men and women dressed in fatigues, all wearing face masks.
I couldn’t pick any of them out of a crowd but trust me when I tell you I never saw so many welcoming faces happily pointing me in the right direction, not even when I attended gay night at Disneyland in the 1990s (Note: Yes, this WAS a thing), though admittedly that was close.
Still, as a very young kid in the sixties this all threw me for a loop. My association with college campuses and the military dates back to the Vietnam War and nationwide protests against its actions at places like Kent State University where four innocent students who just happened to be walking by were famously killed by National Guardsmen shooting blindly into a crowd trying to control them.
Oh, get over yourself, Chair,I told myself as we reached the vaccination tent and I realized the guy I love would soon be protected from Covid, in some part thanks to the work of these soldiers.
This was further confirmed when this REALLY HOT Army medic emerged with a clipboard and approached our car to give my husband his shot.
Yeah, he was a really strapping and really handsome guy in fatigues operating at the height of efficiency who knew his way around a needle so…what else would YOU call him?
In any event, it was all over before you knew it, and certainly way before either of us was ready to let the medic go. But being a medic he had other people to save and clearly nothing was going to stop him from his mission.
I say this only half in jest because this vaccination center run by the government and in some part by the military feels so incongruous with the experiences of so many of us in this country.
Either we have a knee jerk reaction against anything government run or we have a knee jerk suspicion about the use of the military in everyday civilian life.
And yet, here we are.
In 2021 we live in a world where people of either belief system now have, or are about to have, a concrete experience that could cause us to rethink our prejudicial views towards institutions, people and programs that we thought were forever engrained in our psyches.
I mean, if a generation of conservatives grew up feeding on the famous Reagan philosophy that the most terrifying words in the English language are, I’m from the government and I’m here to help, we liberals are not much better.
Particularly if you’re a baby boomer liberal, there is not much faith military leaders will steer young people towards anything but death and destruction in unjustified wars.
Okay, well at least this baby boomer. I’ll come forward. And with mandatory lie detector tests so will the majority of everyone else from my generation.
It was Pres. Biden’s ambitious plan upon taking office that we’d vaccinate 100 million people, meaning 1 million people per day, by the end of his first 100 days. But since taking office Jan. 20th he’s now got us at an average of 2.3. million shots administered daily. Meaning, we will reach that goal by the end of the coming week, which is a little more than half that projected amount of time.
That’s far ahead of schedule and, with the use of the Defense Production Act to make more vaccines (plus a coordinated effort to harness the power of the federal government to run many hundreds of additional testing sites), it is now likely the vast majority of Americans will have received their vaccines by the summer.
At that pace, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts, the U.S. could achieve the holy grail of herd immunity against Covid-19 by the end of the summer.
And all because the majority of us decided to drop a few of our prejudices and agree about a couple of things like mask-wearing, social distancing and a new strategy to try and end a pandemic that’s closed down most of the country and most our lives.
I’m not gonna say imagine what else we can do but I am going to write it.
In fact, I just did.
This does not mean we should go around tooting our horns quite yet. Several states, led by the ubiquitous Florida, have dropped mask mandates altogether, opened up businesses entirely and are encouraging mass gatherings likes concerts, spring break parties at the beach, and probably a ticker tape parade right down the center of the state if they could manage it.
But let’s not tar and feather only Florida. A day after our medic meeting I had to go to the dentist (Note: Yes, I’ve gotten BOTH of my shots) and saw three tables full of maskless people in their 20s and 30s, pushed up against each other at a patio restaurant, sharing spit and god knows what else as I heard them go on and on about everything EXCEPT the biggest issue of the day.
An afternoon dog walk followed where I saw more than several small bunches of people traipsing up and down the hill near my house, gabbing on their phones as they obliviously tried their best, or their worst, to get as close to me as they could as they passed me by.
God knows what they thought of my double-masked self, crossing the street as fast as I could to get away from them.
But I know what I thought.
Variants. Variants. Variants!!! What the f-k is wrong with all of you? Don’t you get it? Yet????
It was enough to make me wish there was a way to report them to the government.
Or at the very least sic the military on them.
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