Facts over Fear: When public health collides with policy and politics, we need to ask: Have we learned anything?

Produced By: - September 21, 2023 1:26 pm

In this week’s Facts Over Fear I’m talking about COVID.

COVID-19 infections right now, in September 2023, are close to the pandemic levels of the first peak in 2020, according to wastewater testing and modeling by forecasters.

The problem is too many people don’t know it, don’t care about it or just don’t believe it. Most of the mainstream media has stopped covering COVID, and the federal government has made significant changes to the way it tracks COVID data, now that the World Health Organization has decided it’s not a“public health emergency of international concern,” but instead is  “an established and ongoing health issue.”

The CDC announced that all Americans six months old and older are eligible for an updated vaccine targeting the latest variant, XBB 1.5. One problem —at least here in the U.S. — is that this the first time that the price for a new COVID booster will not be fully covered by the federal government.

Remember how hard it was to get vaccinated when the shots were free?  And making things even more messy, once again, are the politics around vaccines.

At a recent rally, former President Donald Trump blamed the recent uptick in cases on the Democrats, basically accusing them of using the virus to scare people before an election. And Gov. Ron DeSantis is telling people in his state of Florida not to get the updated vaccine, saying he doesn’t want them to be government guinea pigs.

Viruses don’t fall in step along party lines. We know how this could end for many. Protect yourselves and each other.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday it was going to start offering free COVID tests again. As of Monday, Sept. 25 you can visit covidtests.gov and order four free tests to be mailed to your home.

But don’t stop there.

Get a booster.

Wear a mask.

Ventilate indoor spaces.

Demand policies that improve public health outcomes.

Those, my friends, are the facts.

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Natalie Bencivenga
Natalie Bencivenga

Natalie Bencivenga is a socially conscious journalist and hosts a weekly show on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Follow her on Instagram at NatalieBencivenga.


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