Opinion: Readers end 2021 full of righteous anger over COVID. Can you blame them?
Here we are in the first letters column of 2022 — more than two years after a novel respiratory disease that would go on to kill more than 5 million humans started causing alarm in China, and with multiple vaccines and boosters available to anyone with the good sense to get them — and we’re discussing something too tragically familiar at a time when optimism and aspiration typically define our mood: another winter COVID-19 surge putting stress on our healthcare system.
Most of the letters here were written in reaction to Michael Hiltzik’s column calling 2021 the year that “brought us stupidity and insanity on an unimaginable scale.” They also reflect the mood of our letter writers about a pandemic that persisted with its surges and variants and general malaise months longer than so many hoped after vaccines became widely available. The first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic saw letters expressing not only grief and anxiety, but also the hope that the shared sacrifice needed to mitigate the crisis would bring about some societal changes; now, with the Omicron variant driving up infections and threatening to fill hospitals again, most of what I see from readers about the pandemic is anger over vaccine refusal, a shift in mood that became apparent last summer.
If you want hope, how about this: The year can only get better from here, right?
To the editor: I agree with everything Hiltzik said in his column, but he did not go far enough on COVID-19.
I have not seen any commentary advocating a vaccine mandate for coronavirus patients seeking hospitalization. The unvaccinated have made the choice to expose themselves to greater risk of serious illness than the rest of us. Why should an unvaccinated COVID-19 patient be availed a scarce hospital bed that could go to a vaccinated patient who is in need of hospitalization?
Hospitals should mandate vaccinations for all incoming patients, health insurers should refuse to reimburse for treatment of the unvaccinated, medical professionals should pressure hospitals to enact these mandates, and lawmakers should clear the way for all of this to happen.
Mark Wyman, Pacific Palisades
To the editor: Thanks to Hiltzik for his insightful summary of 2021 and the “Alice in Wonderland” mindset of so many people who have led us to this unfathomable place of anti-vaxxers basically killing off their fellow citizens.
Intensive care unit space should be freed up for high-risk people who have been vaccinated. Those who choose not to be vaccinated (exceptions of course for the small number of patients who are medically unable to be vaccinated) should be placed in a ward with other COVID-19 patients and treated, but not at the expense of services for others whose needs would have been prioritized before the pandemic.
The unvaccinated are putting our medical system at risk. They are infecting the staff that is there to treat them, and they have caused an exodus of nurses and doctors. Maybe once the unvaccinated recognize that we will no longer allow them to put us in this position, they will face the reality of their self-destructive behavior.
We cannot afford to turn ourselves inside out for those who refuse to face the facts. They have no problem accepting science once they are in the ICU.
Betty Seidmon-Vidibor, Los Angeles
To the editor: Kudos to Hiltzik for his brilliant piece on American stupidity.
Remembering the game by which you can connect any actor to a certain actor within six steps, so too can you connect each of these examples either directly or within a few short steps to former President Trump.
How amazing is it that one inept person, although with accomplices, can bring about the destruction of a country? Oh, yeah, I forgot about Hitler.
Marc Simon, Encino
To the editor: Hiltzik’s article presents a vivid and accurate map leading to the inescapable conclusion that the reason the United States, which offers the best healthcare in the world, has such a high rate of COVID-19 deaths is the stupidity of its citizens.
Hiltzik gives us a fresh reminder that ignorance is the monster that is destroying civilization.
Herbert Weinberg, Los Angeles
To the editor: Many in the liberal media question the sincerity of those who profess to value their freedom and doubt the severity of COVID-19. This is a contract for those who would prove their strong belief that the pandemic is a hoax and therefore have no need to wear a mask or get a vaccine:
“I have the freedom to do whatever I want. I will not be controlled by those who would use fear to control me. I will move about freely and congregate with whomever I choose. I am not afraid of the liberal media or doctors who peddle horror stories to frighten me. I am so sure that the virus is a hoax that I am willing to sign this binding contract.
“If I contract the virus and become seriously ill, I will not seek medical help from any hospital or healthcare provider. If it can be proven that I infected someone with the coronavirus and as a result they die or become severely ill, I will plead guilty to a crime.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and will not blame anyone else for the results of my behavior. I sign this contract as a statement of my sincere belief that the virus is a hoax and I am not in danger of suffering any negative consequences.”
Ronald Kotkin, Laguna Beach