Going Out

From the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Data Dashboard

My wife and I have had this discussion multiple times. Should we wear a mask in a store now that we are both-dose vaccinated? It seems some people still wear masks; some aren’t and maybe never did.

We went out and had a beer last Friday night at a local pub with some friends. It was great to catch up. Their lives are ongoing, as are ours. We need to check in with our neighbors and friends and this pandemic has made that hard. We are social animals.

I’ve dropped the mask. I realize if I’m exposed to an active case, I could carry the virus a bit, but the number of cases has dropped. Besides, the folks who want to be immunized probably are by now. So, the risk I might pose when unmasked is to someone who has chosen to run the risk.

Lots of Idahoans over 65 have gotten immunized. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Data Dashboard, about 72% of folks over 65 are fully immunized. Mainly, we’re the ones who died from the disease; 80% of mortalities were in the over 65 age group. It makes sense we’d go out and get the shot.

Not that Idaho ever wants to be compared to any other state, but we’re lagging the national pace. We’re down with Mississippi and Alabama, with a statewide rate of 34% fully vaccinated. And of note, the rate of vaccinations has slowed both nationally and here in Idaho. Last week, about 23,000 Idaho pulled up their sleeves, the lowest number since last winter when the shots first came out.

Now, I know these hold outs aren’t just Republicans, though, statistically, it’s possible. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in Idaho 4:1, and Unaffiliated voters 2:1. Despite what some will tell you, there are no “Independents” in Idaho; it’s not a recognized party. You may consider yourself “independent”, which is noble, but the Secretary of State will list you as “unaffiliated” unless you pick a party to belong to. Indeed, one small survey in Twin Falls found Republicans more reticent about getting shots. Can’t we explain everybody’s behavior these days on party affiliation?

Maybe. But some heavily Republican states are ahead of us in this. Look at Utah, ten points up and just as red. But that group of states in the back of the pack with us, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Wyoming are pretty darn red.

Some of those folks already immunized in this conservative state just have to be Republicans. There are so many of them. Let’s do the math:

Idaho total population 1,873,681

Total Registered Voters: 983,333

Total Registered Republicans: 524,722

Total Registered Other: 458,311

Total Immunized: 416,619

So, it’s possible that all those shots went into “Other” arms. Statistically very unlikely, but possible. If the car you drive, the hat you wear, and the church you go to all tell us something about your political persuasion, why not immunization status?

Of course, the question arises, whenever talking about Republicans in Idaho, just what kind of Republican?

Maybe this is the new loyalty test the party could consider at the upcoming state convention. Lots of legislators in the statehouse declared their “courage” in the face of the “China Virus” by not wearing masks or social distancing. Did they sneak out and get a shot when no one was looking? Or are they loyal to the hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin party line?

It would be simple to test for antibodies at the convention. But some might claim they were “naturally immunized”. I’m sure there’s a lab somewhere that could sort that out.

Finally, Idaho Republicans can know the truth about each other. No loyalty oath to sign, just do the test.

Of course, the true Democrats will just keep wearing masks even if immunized. We are such tribal creatures, even in the face of a viral pandemic.

About ddxdx

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