Dear fellow conservatives: Have you not noticed that people are still dying?

·4 min read

Why in the world won’t some of my conservative friends mask up and vax up, even as Kansas City renews its mask mandate as of next Monday? Have they not noticed that people are still dying — and that 97% of hospitalizations are now among the unvaccinated? Or that 83% of new COVID-19 cases are the delta variant, which is a rabid new critter that the vaccinated can still spread?

While the Moderna vaccine is 72% effective against the delta variant, and Pfizer/BioNTech’s is 88% effective, you’ll notice that neither is 100%. And while it is very good protection, even if the vaccinated don’t get sick themselves from the delta variant, they can still transmit it far more easily than was the case with earlier versions of the virus.

All the more reason to get vaccinated. And until more people are, masks will be necessary again because delta will continue to fan out across the plains: The greater Kansas City area added more than 3,100 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, an increase of 50% week-over-week. On Tuesday alone, the metro area added 603 new cases, the most in a day since January.

This virus is on the rise. Shouldn’t our guard be going up, too?

“These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible or we are going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for, that we went through last year,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who, as a polio survivor, knows a little something about vital vaccinations.

Although my political and social views span the breadth of the ideological spectrum, I’m considered conservative because of my devotion to tried-and-true conservative principles such as limited government, private property, the rule of law, secure borders, individual responsibility, fiscal sanity and more. I also agree wholeheartedly with conservatives who believe — and a year later are being joined by others in believing — that the COVID virus was most likely lab-spawned.

But I part ways with my conservative friends who flatly oppose the COVID vaccine, masks or mask mandates. Certainly the march of Big Brother, as well as Big Tech, are two of the great threats of our time. But masks and vaccines, which seek only to control the virus and not you, aren’t in any way part of that big-government problem. They’re part of the solution to this hundred-year pandemic.

And mom always said if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Now, there are legitimate and understandable reasons why some are either vaccine hesitant, mask resistant or both. Pete Mundo, conservative morning host on KCMO Talk Radio, faults poor messaging and moving of goalposts by government officials, whom many folks already look askance at. Many people “now feel like they’ve been turned on in many ways,” he says.

Absolutely. But it’s the virus that’s turned on us.

Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska can’t return to normal yet

Nola Wood, founder of KC Conservatives, calmly shares a litany of concerns people have, even about mask mandates — including breathing problems; loss of nonverbal communication (which especially impairs children, the elderly and those with mental illness); having followed all protocols and still getting COVID; and pushing people who have problems with masks to do business outside the city.

For Emily Carpenter, a mother of four and DeSoto school board candidate, it comes down to medical and personal freedom: “I think that everyone should have the freedom to choose what is best for their health.” She and Mundo both recommend consulting with your doctor — fully realizing a doctor will likely prescribe masks and vaccines where possible.

I don’t know why you’d need a doctor’s nudge at this point, but do it if it helps.

Not all of these objections can be overcome, and exceptions to mask mandates need to be made for health reasons. Yet mask mandates sure seem necessary for a much larger body of health reasons.

Nor are all conservatives against masks and vaccines. Not by a long shot.

“I’m a believer in the ferocity of the delta variant,” one conservative friend wrote to me privately. “I’m disgusted by those who believe the vaccine is of evil intent and refuse to get it. And I’m rolling my eyes almost out of their sockets, as a number of my closest friends post how distraught they are about the possibility of having to wear a mask again.”

What she said.

Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts vowed in a defiant statement Tuesday that his state’s “return to normal won’t be interrupted by new CDC guidance” requiring indoor masking. Of course it won’t. The return to normal in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and everywhere else is being rudely interrupted instead by the new virulent COVID-19 delta variant.

It doesn’t take much for us to at least try to interrupt it. Mask up. Vax up. Do it for those around you.

That’s another great principle conservatives can rally around.

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