Over the weekend the following image began circulating on Twitter from Friday’s White House Press Release:
I am not one to take screen captures or images on Twitter as being entirely truthful, so I always take such things with plenty of skepticism.
So I looked for links to the actual transcript, and what I found out really wasn’t anything better.
In fact, in context the entire statement seems much worse.
The entire transcript can be found here but I’ll post the entire beginning post which is where the above quote is taken from:
MR. ZIENTS: Good morning. And thanks for joining us.
Today, Dr. Walensky will give an overview of the state of the pandemic and on new practices that will help keep schools open, and Dr. Fauci will provide an update on the latest science and the importance of boosters.
But before we start, I want to talk about how we should think about this moment.
As we’ve explained in prior briefings, the Omicron variant is more transmissible and our medical experts anticipate it will lead to a rise in cases.
But unlike last winter, we now have the power to protect ourselves.
Our vaccines work against Omicron, especially for people who get booster shots when they are eligible. If you are vaccinated, you could test positive. But if you do get COVID, your case will likely be asymptomatic or mild.
We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this.
For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.
So, our message to every American is clear: There is action you can take to protect yourself and your family. Wear a mask in public indoor settings. Get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated, and get a booster shot when you’re eligible.
We are prepared to confront this new challenge. We have plenty of vaccines and booster shots available at convenient locations and for no cost. There is clear guidance on masking to help slow the spread. And we have emergency medical teams to respond to surges as necessary.
So, this is not a moment to panic because we know how to protect people and we have the tools to do it. But we need the American people to do their part to protect themselves, their children, and their communities.
The more people get vaccinated, the less severe this Omicron outbreak will be. One hundred sixty thousand unvaccinated people have already needlessly lost their lives just since June, and this number will continue to go up until the unvaccinated take action.
So, I’ll say it once more: Get vaccinated.
Like I said, these remarks seem far worse than the quote leads on.
False Sense of Security
For example, a comment is made that those who are vaccinated are likely to experience mild COVID. I would agree with this sentiment, but the same can be said for a large portion of Americans. A big issue here is what constitutes “mild COVID”. Is it flu-like symptoms, fever, persistent cough? There really is no delineating of what is considered mild.
Also, take into account that many hospitals are filled with people who are vaccinated. Sure, there are plenty of hospitals that are mostly comprised of those unvaccinated, but if the expectation is that vaccines should drastically reduce hospital rates why are we still seeing reports of large portions of hospitalizations being vaccinated individuals?
I wouldn’t argue that this is a lack of the vaccine’s effectiveness, but it’s likely to point more towards the level of unhealthy citizens we have in America.
I was with a friend yesterday who mentioned that one of our friends (who is a medical resident in a hospital) is finding that a majority of the patients coming into the hospital are vaccinated. He also works in one of the most obese states in the country.
This type of messaging is very dangerous. It leads to a false sense of security, a one-track mind of how to fight COVID which focuses solely on getting vaccinated and suggests that if you are vaccinated you will be fine, because if you get COVID you will likely get “mild COVID”- again, not sure what that means.
So not only will it be the unvaccinated, but many vaccinated individuals who may be extremely fearful of COVID may suffer severe illness and death as well. This is absolutely irresponsible messaging and quite shocking coming from the White House.
“Us Vs Them”
Take a look at the wording and see what message it sends: “we will get through this”, which certainly isn’t referring to the nation as a whole. No, this collective dialect is intended to refer to those who are vaccinated.
All of you have done your part, you have done the right thing, and the nation thanks you for doing your part!
I don’t expect some sort of High School Musical “We’re all in this Together” type of rhetoric but to castigate those who are unvaccinated to a winter of death is absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical.
But also, remember that the sole reason to get vaccinated is for yourself first. The vaccines are intended to help yourself first, and possibly others later. This is like putting the air mask on yourself first before you try putting it on others.
So what argument is to be made by saying that you will be putting others such as your family at risk? Again, for those who are at high risk who believe they should be vaccinated they should have every right to do so, but they do so with the sole intent of protecting themselves first.
I may not be that old, but I have never heard such rhetoric be used to argue vaccination, especially considering that those who are vaccinated are likely to still spread the disease (I argue that mucosal immunity is not being developed with intramuscular vaccines as one of the primary reasons people are still getting infected/becoming infectious).
This is some of the most divisive rhetoric I have seen, especially coming from an administration that has prided themselves in bringing the country back together.
Remember, the push for/against vaccine mandates do not fall along party lines and it is completely ignorant for people to believe such nonsense.
Yesterday I saw the phrase “the unvaccinated” trending on Twitter and the comments left me disheartened. The level of vitriol and condemnation from those who portray themselves to be morally superior was so shocking. I’ve come to the idea that, in certain circles some people just get off on the idea that unvaccinated people are dying just to tout their rhetoric.
I would never wish death upon anyone vaccinated or vaccinated. I would also never wish vaccinated individuals experience any sort of adverse events. So much empathy has been lost for our fellow Americans and this type of messaging does no good to try to heal that divide.
One of the most frustrating things has been the lack of clear, decisive messaging from any health official about proper protective protocols and treatment options. Actually, can anyone point out where any therapeutics were mentioned above? Was there any mention of monoclonal antibodies, Molnupiravir, PAXLOVID, Vitamin D, proper nutrition and diet, exercise, supplementation, proper sleep?
Nope, the only thing mentioned was vaccines, vaccines, and vaccines! And the message extends throughout the entire presentation. I ended up going back to bold any mention of vaccines or boosters just to emphasize this point.
Mr. Zients: Get vaccinated and get the booster
Dr. Walensky: Get vaccinated and get the booster
Dr. Fauci: Get vaccinated and get the booster
Throughout the entire press briefing I could not find any mention of treatment options. This is even more aggravating considering that at several points in the press briefing there was mention of having tools to fight COVID, yet nowhere was there mention of treatments!
Both the unvaccinated and vaccinated are likely to be hospitalized and die. I’m not concerned about the relative proportion, I’m concerned if any of these people, especially vaccinated individuals who are fed into a false sense of security, would even know to find monoclonal antibody sites, or that losing weight and getting active is one of the best ways to prevent severe COVID illness and death.
Again, more parochial viewpoints as to how to tackle the pandemic.
One thing I’d like to point out specifically is masking. By this point we should be well aware that most cloth and surgical masks are ineffective. The ones to most likely provide protection are the N95 masks, but does anyone see any mention of encouraging people to wear such masks in the briefing? There is mention of clear masking guidance, but this would be the first time I have heard of “clear” guidance because I definitely have not seen anything in support of that argument.
Take double masking as an example. The entire idea of double masking never sat right with me. Why should people wear both a cloth mask and a surgical mask when they could just wear an N95 mask if they were so concerned about becoming infected? Honestly, it felt like some “double condom” argument, and we certainly know better than to tell people that two condoms are better than one! There’s no evidence that double masking is in any way better and yet I continue to see plenty of people who are still double masking. The evidence of masking is sparse, and the evidence of double masking is entirely nonexistent.
Surprisingly, people are now discussing the ineffectiveness of many of the masks people use now.
I would argue that Dr. Leana Wen has been one of the biggest sources of nonsensical information, so I was surprised to hear many of her recent remarks, one of which included the use of cloth masks:
How to Further Divide an Already Divided Country
I suggest everyone read the entire transcript and make up their own mind. Personally, I find it to be nothing more than divisive rhetoric that leaves more to be desired on the information front. Dr. Fauci does discuss the evidence in favor of boosters, although I haven’t fully looked at the papers he cited. Just know that many figures have been cropped and that he’s talking to an otherwise uninformed group of journalists (this is something that has bothered me the entire pandemic, the idea that even when discussing medical information no outside doctors or scientists were ever included in these press briefings to either discuss or debate the information). Here is a link to the slides mentioned for those who are interested.
The country continues to be divided, and when we see the same divisive rhetoric being pushed by the highest levels of government I can’t see any way that we can reconcile with those we disagree with. People have begun to form hardline stances against one another and promoting cult-like behaviors against their “opponents”. I don’t see how the comments made above encourage people in any way to get vaccinated. In reality, I see it being used to bolster shaming tactics against those who are unvaccinated- why else would a phrase such as “the unvaccinated” start trending on Twitter?
We need far better messaging and far better transparency from our leaders if we ever expect to heal the divide in our country, and messaging like this just adds more fuel to the already blazing fire.
Modern Discontent is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.