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A particularly virulent strain of COVID-19 is causing case rates to go up, some cities to reinstitute restrictions, hospitals to see surges in patients and death totals to rise.

If only there was something we could do about it.

Oh, that’s right, there is something we can do about it — take the COVID-19 vaccine.

At this point, it seems like people who were motivated to get the vaccine, eager for their turn, received the vaccine by the end of the spring.

In Kittitas County that comes to about 42% of the population age 12 and above. Every time, Gov. Inslee touts the vaccination rate as hitting 70% in the state, keep in mind that’s driven by West Side vaccination rates.

It is tempting to hoist the “Mission Accomplished” banner. According the July 19 update on the Kittitas County Community Impact Dashboard, there are six active COVID cases in the county. K-12 schools and Central Washington University being out of session helps those numbers. There were only 21 pending tests listed. It is fair to say, numbers are down across the board.

But it is also fair to point out, that since the start of the year (when vaccines were available) there have been seven deaths attributed to COVID-19 in this county (37 total since the start of the pandemic). Of those seven deaths, five of the people were unvaccinated, one was partially vaccinated and one was fully vaccinated, according to the Kittitas County Health Department.

Nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of the start of July, 99% of COVID deaths have occurred in unvaccinated people.

Even with a highly effective vaccine — and the COVID vaccines are clocking in a remarkable 90 to 95% effectiveness — there will be people who get vaccinated and still get COVID. Health officials say most of those people experience less severe symptoms, but there will be people who get vaccinated and die of COVID.

But it is unlikely people are opting to not get vaccinated because they fear they may fall into the 5 to 10% of the population that still will get the virus.

People are going to be leery about what they inject into the body, especially a vaccine developed as rapidly as those for COVID-19.

A normal assumption would be that people would see how the vaccine is playing out — highly effective, few side effects — and then opt to get vaccinated. All things being equal in a scenario where the vaccine is safe and effective and the risk level is starting to climb due to spread of variants, you’d see the vaccination rate surge.

We’re not seeing that. The reasons, unfortunately, veer from informed discussions of documented effectiveness and case data and delve into the deep, dark corners of calculated misinformation campaigns and misapplied ideology.

What would change that? In a column on this page, Karl Smith suggests that President Joe Biden enlist the help of Donald Trump and others involved with the Operation Warp Speed undertaking. Smith envisions a forum where Biden praises the success of Warp Speed and Trump in turn encourages his followers to get vaccinated.

Given there is an ideological gap in vaccination rates, this is a reasonable idea. It is a fact that Trump has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

It is tempting to envision people from the full range of the political spectrum standing on the stage together and saying, “This was the challenge we faced as Americans and we met it. Now we need to follow through as a people to ensure the job of defeating this virus is done.”

Politically, it might be a tough one for Biden and Democrats to stomach, given Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the verified outcome of a free and fair election. But, if nothing else, Americans elected Biden to be the adult in the room. This would be the ultimate in adulting.

We would celebrate our successes and commit to supporting each other moving forward.

It would be a unifying moment. Is America still up to the task?

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