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Historically Speaking—Part 3: COVID

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

By Will Bellaimey:

Will Bellaimey continues with Part 3 of our series:

Historically Speaking

Check out Part 1 & Part 2!

Watch the video or read the transcript!

Edited transcript:

Hi, I'm Will Bellaimey, and this is the latest in our series, Historically Speaking, connecting what's happening right now to what's happened in the past.


I think the Biden administration has tried about everything that they can to bring this pandemic to a close, with mixed success, I think. At this time last year, vaccination was really ramping up, going from basically 0% to about 74% of Americans being vaccinated over the course of the last year. I don't know that Biden anticipated how politicized the issue was gonna become, though, because those percentages vary really widely based on who you voted for. But that doesn't really matter from a policy perspective, except that hospitals are getting overrun. And for the most part, they're getting over with very sick people who are not vaccinated. And at this point, most of the unvaccinated people are people who have been the victims of misinformation in one form or another, a lot of that coming from a right-wing media ecosystem that, beginning with Trump, was pretty critical of a lot of scientific experts about all sorts of things, including the vaccine.

But there's also plenty of young people or hippie-dippy left-wing people who have, for whatever reason, still not gotten the vaccine that has made the surge this winter at least as bad from a health-care policy perspective as the one last winter. Some people have been calling on the Biden administration to, for instance, make it required to be vaccinated to fly, and they haven't taken that step yet. And I don't anticipate that happening anytime soon, but I think it's in part because the public health experts are just trying to figure out things that will successfully get people vaccinated. And for the most part, if at this point you aren't convinced to get a vaccine it's not clear what will really change your mind.

The testing approach is now being ramped up, I think in part due to a recognition that there's a ceiling to how many people you can really get vaccinated, and they're gonna be mailing out test kits. So I think that over the course of the next year, assuming that we don't have a variant that's significantly better at defeating the vaccine than the current one, which certainly could happen—probably will happen at some point in the next few years—but let's say that that doesn't happen, I think you will see most of our culture shifting towards what we would think of as more of an endemic approach rather than a pandemic approach. And that may still involve a lot of hospital systems being overrun and breakouts in local areas to overwhelm aspects of the economy. And the global economy is still kind of being rattled by supply chain issues, which, to be honest, are mostly being driven by people ordering stuff from Amazon. It's a shift in our consumption patterns that is overwhelming a system that is already weak. So we're already seeing a pretty significant shift in people's attitudes, especially among those who are already vaccinated, that perhaps COVID is something that they're gonna be able to live with or are gonna have to live with.


Will Bellaimey teaches U.S. Government and Politics at Flintridge Prep School outside Los Angeles where he is also the director of the Los Angeles Museum of Geography, which is staffed entirely by seventh graders. His podcast, All the Presidents, Man, is available here.

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