Burke: We’re not over covid, and I’m not over my frustration

My wife and I are vaxxed and boosted, yet tested positive. Denial has a role in why this disease persists.

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

Tuesday, Nov. 29: So I popped positive today, twice, with my home covid test. As did my wife.

And I’m furious. At our age, data says covid can mean death. (And yes, we’ve had the shots and boosters.) But I haven’t actually faced imminent demise since I wandered off into a minefield outside a Greek airbase years ago; was kidnapped at sawed-off-shotgun-point by a guy who’d just shot up a bar in New York’s Chinatown; or stood bridge watch on a 700-foot freighter as we went through the eye of a typhoon between Hong Kong and Singapore and rolled to about 45 degrees, a bunch. So I’m frightened as well.

Why furious? Well, because knocking on wood for good luck (see my Thanksgiving column Nov. 21) didn’t work. I noted in that piece we’d missed the disease so far and clearly taunted karma by even thinking we’d actually dodged that bullet.

But I’m also angry, disgusted, and almost wanna-be-vindictive with those who refuse the vaccine and skip the second shot; and the millions who haven’t had the booster.

I am sick to death (perhaps literally?) with the ignorant MAGAs who make a pandemic into some sort of political litmus test; with the anti-vaxxers who pervert science in support of some Q-infused dementia; with the No-Mask “freedom” idiots who think dying is some sort of political statement; and with Donald Trump who’s perfidy goes far beyond covid and is personally responsible for the death of hundreds of thousand Americans.

Face it folks, the Republican Party has become a death cult.

Consider that research — conducted by Yale University School of Management’s Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham and Jacob Wallace and Jason L. Schwartz of the Yale School of Public Health — that has shown excess deaths during the pandemic were 76 percent higher among Republicans than Democrats in two states, Ohio and Florida. What’s more, the partisan gap in death rates increased significantly after vaccines were introduced. And there’s data showing more than triple the death rate among the people who live in the most pro-Trump 30 percent of the United States compared to those living in least pro-Trump 30 percent. (Party-choice kills.)

But the Republican death cult extends beyond covid.

The Republican Party’s support (enthusiasm?) for AR-15 rifles, high-capacity magazines, no background checks or red-flag laws; the death penalty; and their years-long campaign to kill Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) can only be categorized as a desire for death (of anyone, including themselves).

And there’s no shortage of examples: such as the Republican North Carolina legislator who introduced a bill to execute any woman who has an abortion; (Strange way to demonstrate the Right to Life); the 172 Republicans who voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act; and Eric Greitens, the Republican who, as he ran for the Senate in Missouri, aired TV ads showing him and a well-armed crew breaking into RINO (Republicans in Name Only) homes looking to eliminate other Republicans.

But the dedication to death extends from the death of actual people to the death of democracy.

How else can one explain the focus on election denialism (The Big Lie or Kari Lake); their drive to restrict voting; their use of extreme violence, attacking not only those who disagree with them but the very foundation of our government when they stormed the Capitol to overthrow an election on Jan. 6, 2021; or the Christian right’s fight to turn the U.S. into a theocracy.

Again, examples abound, from Keith Packer, who wore a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt for the Jan. 6 insurrection (celebrating the death camp where more than 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed during World War II) to the leader of the Republican Party and 2024 presidential candidate Trump having dinner with vocally antisemitic and Hitler-fan Ye — Kanye West — and rabid racist/fascist Nick Fuentes who advocates we should, “take this country back by force if necessary.”

Dec. 2: Update: I’m still furious but no longer afraid of dying from covid.

Both my wife and I are doing as well as can be expected. Both our cases seem on the milder side; me because maybe I was just lucky and got the shots and they worked as promised, and her because she was lucky, got the shots and they worked as promised, and had help from Paxlovid. (Some other meds I take are contraindicated for Paxlovid and my docs said treat the covid with over-the-counter stuff.)

So we’re back to isolating, everything smells of disinfectant, and I don’t wish this on anyone, not even the Republicans. The fear of death and suffering with the symptoms isn’t pleasant.

My advice — semi-post covid — if you haven’t got the shots, get ‘em. And keep wearing a mask in crowds or with unfamiliar people, I think that’s where we got infected.

It is beyond my imagination to think what a covid diagnosis would have been like before the vaccines or treatments. And I can only thank god for the scientists and doctors at Pfizer, Moderna, the FDA, CDC, and the people in the Biden White House and Congress for all they did.

And anyone who tells you different, disparages the shots, wants to investigate Anthony Fauci or claims you’re being injected with Bill Gates microchips; I really hope they don’t get sick. Honestly. Not now.

We could be so over this.

Slava Ukraini.

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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