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At What Cost

COMMENTARY-I am a conservative. That might surprise people who think that, as a progressive activist, I’m a liberal.

But supporting egalitarian programs does not keep me from being a fiscally and personally responsible human being. 

I don’t spend money needlessly. And it’s more than the “Waste not, want not” approach of family who lived through the Great Depression. It’s a respect for this planet and the people with whom I share it. 

So lately I’ve been looking at vaccine avoidance with perhaps a bigger picture perception. 

Libertarians and those who don’t like anyone, let alone the government, telling them what to do want the freedom to refuse to be vaccinated. But, at what cost to them and the rest of us? 

Vaccine supporters are crying crocodile tears as deniers call on friends and family from their Delta-variant deathbeds to take the shot. 

But it’s much bigger than a few tens of thousands of deaths. And how horrible is it to call thousands of American deaths “a few”? 

It’s the hundreds of thousands of infections, it’s the demands on doctors and medical facilities, it’s the lives lost because people thought they had the right to decide for themselves what to do irrespective of the needs and rights of those around them. 

It’s the lost year and a half for our children, it’s the plans delayed, the dreams shattered. It’s the stress, depression, and suicides. 

By now, a year and a half after Los Angeles first shut down in the initial wave of the pandemic, we expected to be back at work, to be able to hang out with whomever we chose, to be living normal lives again. Not. 

Escalating arguments about enforcement have turned into ineffective compromises across the country and around the world. After 18 months of living with pandemic restrictions, people are angry and are not willing to budge once they’ve taken a stand. 

If people don’t want to get vaccinated, they shouldn’t have to (with the sole exceptions being for verified medical reasons for which they are taking adequate alternate precautions). 

But what about the thousands around them who might become infected, who may die due to their spreading of the virus – I hear the greatest concentration is in the nostrils before any symptoms appear but when tests will read positive. 

So, to protect the innocent, anyone who refuses the vaccine should have to provide twice weekly diagnostic tests. And to protect the wallets of the innocent, such testing should be at the unvaccinated’s own cost. 

The diagnostic test is the invasive deep swab to the back of your nose to determine if you have an active coronavirus infection – both more effective and uncomfortable enough to provide some incentive to rethink one’s position on getting vaccinated. 

And the cost can be up to $850 an excavation, albeit including the lab work.  

As a lifestyle choice, no insurance especially Medicare, should reimburse these tests since the costs will ultimately be spread to other insureds. 

And a price tag as high as $1,700 or even $250 a week, may be more of an incentive than a $100 bill or a lottery ticket. 

In the lottery of life, when it’s their bottom line, perhaps everyone will start making some more conservative choices.

 

(Liz Amsden is an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.) Photo: OC Hawk. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.