What are we even doing right now, Arkansas?
At the time of this writing, the Natural State ranks #1 in the nation for new COVID19 cases, and #2 in deaths. Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, warns that the state’s healthcare system could be overwhelmed in the next two weeks. Governor Asa Hutchinson is at this moment on a statewide tour beseeching Arkansans to increase the state’s vaccination rate – currently at a staggeringly disappointing 35%. “98.3% of those hospitalized (with COVID19) since January were not vaccinated,” said Governor Hutchinson on Tuesday. Our state’s most in-the-know leaders understand what is happening.
COVID19 and its vaccine is “political” because politicians made it political. It’s too late to unring that bell. Besides, the politics of COVID19 is the least of our concerns. It’s not liberal or conservative. COVID19 is a social issue, a health issue, and economic issue. But if you’d like me to stick to sports, I get it. I respect that. I have a degree in English from Arkansas State University, for crying out loud. Like the majority of people on the web and on TV, I have zero qualifications to weigh in on the health benefits of vaccines or the dangers of viruses. So let me frame this in a sporting construct:
We are about to lose a normal season of college football again.
What are we even doing, Arkansas? We’re acting like we’ve never seen a vaccine before. To attend a public or private college or university within the state of Arkansas, students must show proof of 2 MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) immunizations, immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. Certain vaccines are required for obtaining a U.S. passport. Yet suddenly, vaccinating ourselves from the most infectious virus in a century is some kind of threat to our freedoms and rights?
I’m not about to ask you to stop believing in COVID vaccination conspiracy theories because part of conspiracy theories is that you can’t prove them to be true or untrue (which is part of the conspiracy). I simply cannot convince you that this isn’t a left-wing ploy to chemically convert you into Communist slaves. There’s a lot of dubious info out there. I can tell you that President Donald Trump, the architect of Operation Warp Speed, has received the vaccine and has urged Americans to take it. Furthermore, 96 out of 100 U.S. Senators are vaccinated. Health takes priority over politics.
I sympathize with the level-headed concerns: the vaccine was developed quickly, it has not yet been fully approved by the FDA, and some side effects have been reported in extremely rare cases. If you’ve ever eaten a gas station potato log, you’ve taken bigger risks for far lower stakes.
If you won’t take the vaccine for yourself, for your loved ones, or for your neighbors, do it for college football (a volleyball and basketball). Because we are headed right back down the same stupid path of canceled games, quarantined players, empty stadiums, and Zoom press conferences. We wanted normalcy. We can achieve that normalcy. Y’all, we can do this.
I love my Red Wolves family. I love Arkansas. I love you.
PHOTO CREDIT: Arkansas State Athletic Department, thank you Jerry Scott.