The Idaho Herd

Despite the behavior of most Idaho legislators, not wearing masks, umbrage about social distancing, it seems many Idahoans have taken COVID seriously. Folks are getting immunized.

So far, about 22% of the state’s population, 372K people have received an immunization. The new scheduling website put up by the Department of Health and Welfare should make it easier for people who want a shot to get one. We’ve sure had trouble scheduling folks at our clinic. It doesn’t make it any easier that we have three sources of shots, all with different rules as to who you can give it to. But we’re working hard, and it seems people still want them.

Idaho isn’t leading in this race, by any means. In fact, we’re down between Arkansas and Mississippi, familiar territory for us.

If you add the number of Idaho COVID cases (177K) to those with immunizations, we are at about 32%. Mild cases of COVID do not seem to give long lasting immunity, though it seems the shots do, as far as we know.

Which, honestly, isn’t far. COVID is a brand-new virus for us humans to deal with so we have to learn as we go. We’ve had some interesting evidence from other places. Manaus, Brazil had serious infection rates and deaths last spring. It was figured 75% of the population had been infected. Their cases dropped all through the summer and fall but spiked again in December. So, the concept of herd immunity is being tested.

Despite the shot rollout, Idaho hit the news last week with two hot spots, Idaho Falls and Rexburg leading the nation for infection rates. They don’t count the Capitol Building as a region, but there were enough cases popping up there last week for the legislature to suspend itself for a couple weeks. When they come back, they’ll get back to work banning mask mandates.

We all want to get back to “normal”, don’t we? I keep asking my buddy when we can play pool again. He gets his second shot next week.

But that “back to normal” thing just might not happen. Nobody really knows. We are getting advice that you can meet with folks if you’ve been immunized, but you should still wear a mask. Truth is, most of us will survive this pandemic, wearing masks or not. But many won’t. Over half a million dead, nationally, attributed to COVID. Excess deaths are higher.

“Back to normal” implies the bad thing that has happened can be forgotten, ignored, denied. Maybe we can pretend it didn’t happen. I think many are hoping with adequate immunizations we can reach “herd immunity” and the normalcy door opens up. Nobody is sure where the herd immunity number lies.

I prefer to try to learn from the bad things that happen, not deny them. But the lessons from a pandemic might be telling us something we can’t really do much about, individually.

Are there just too many humans on this planet? It sure seems that way to me.

Back last spring when we had the shut down and my buddy and I stopped playing pool, I went up to check on him where he lives on the mountain. He had a down fir tree I could cut for firewood. Big one; needed the McCulloch CP125 with the three-foot bar. We chatted, out in his drive at a distance. He remarked that he hadn’t heard the jake brakes on the highway a couple miles off like he usually did. And there had been no contrails in the sky.

“Weird, isn’t it?” says I.

“I love it.” He replied and grinned. He’s got most of what he needs up there.

Come to think of it, I do down here to. But I do hope we can play pool again.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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