THOMAS D. ELIAS
Life after the Spanish flu pandemic that killed tens of millions of people in their late teens and early 20s of the last century has never been the same as before.
Some public health measures, such as mass vaccinations, have become normalized. New health and cleanliness standards have been imposed on restaurants and other businesses. It would therefore be extremely unrealistic to expect no change as the COVID-19 pandemic that has plagued the past two years gradually turns into an endemic disease that we regularly face and not with emergency programs and emergency tactics.
One change that appears to be permanent is the relocation of millions of workers, in California and elsewhere, away from office buildings and into home offices. This has already opened up billions of square feet of vacant office space that could be turned into housing much more quickly and economically than new construction.
So the solution to both homelessness and the affordable housing shortage is upon us and beginning to materialize, even if Governor Gavin Newsom and a largely developer-funded California legislature blithely ignore it.
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Another likely permanent change: While it won’t be mandatory in many places, count on grocery stores, gyms, theaters, and other private public places to require or recommend that the unvaccinated population (at least) wear masks to an indefinite future. , with the more health-conscious among us willingly accepting.
State, county and city masking requirements have already been eliminated or significantly relaxed, in part the by-product of Newsom and Mayors Eric Garcetti and London Breed of Los Angeles and San Francisco being filmed maskless in a skybox during a January pro football playoff game at Inglewood.
Expect masking in schools to gradually disappear, and imagine that vaccinations will remain a major political issue. They already were before Covid appeared; the virus has heightened the conflict as millions have claimed forced vaccinations violate basic freedoms.
Those making these claims, of course, are essentially saying they have the right to infect everyone around them for their own momentary comfort, as Covid can be transmitted even by people who show no symptoms of the disease . If someone dies as a result of being denied — and many have already — that makes some denies little more than premeditated murderers, as most now know the possible consequences of failing to mask or vaxx.
All of this has led to a vast expansion of the anti-vaccination movement which has opposed mandatory vaccinations for schoolchildren long before anyone heard of the coronavirus or its Greek-lettered variants like Delta and Omicron.
It is therefore very likely that California will for the foreseeable future be an even more intense vaccine battleground than it was before the pandemic.
Around this time in 2019, anti-vaccine protesters were routinely arrested for various forms of disorderly conduct and some even assaulted a state legislator.
It was Democratic state senator Richard Pan of Sacramento, who drafted two state laws that make it much harder for anti-vaxxers to claim religious belief exemptions to get their children into public schools. and private, without getting vaccinated against threats like smallpox, rubella and whooping cough.
Pan was beaten while walking on a sidewalk in his own neighborhood not far from the State Capitol.
Undeterred, Pan – also a pediatrician – is now sponsoring a bill to add Covid vaccinations to the list required before children can go to school.
“The vaccination requirement is the cornerstone of keeping schools open and safe,” Pan told a reporter. “This vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective.”
Pan also drafted a bill cracking down on doctors who created a cottage industry by providing medical excuses to anti-vaccine children, often without actually seeing the children involved. It’s probably only a matter of time before he or others promote and pass a bill tightening internet clergy now selling religious exemption statements from Covid inoculations to parents ani-vaxx and public employees they have never met.
All of this means that some of the changes of the pandemic, many of which have yet to fully unfold, will become permanent, while others will remain hotly contested for years to come.
Thomas D. Elias writes the syndicated California Focus column. He is the author of the book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It”. Readers can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.