Vax You

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the news. He tested positive for covid and will miss tomorrow’s game. The purported scandal is that Rodgers implied in a press conference some time ago that he had been vaccinated. (He said “immunized.”) Now Rodgers is caught up in the general hysteria over vaccination, leading him to describe himself as a victim of the “woke mob” that is trying to “put a final nail…in my cancel culture casket.”

More on the broader point in a moment, but in the specific context of professional football, I think the covid rules are silly and damaging to both players and fans. I have seen no reporting to the effect that Rodgers is sick or unable to play football. In my view, covid is like any other disease. If he is too sick to play, he’ll have to sit out. If he is not too sick, he should play.

Might he spread the disease to other players? Sure. As with many other diseases from time immemorial. But the vast majority of NFL players have been vaccinated, so that risk mostly reflects the fact that the vaccines aren’t very effective at stopping the virus from spreading.

Pressure on those who have not been vaccinated to get the shot, coming mostly from the Left, has become crazed even as evidence mounts that the vaccines, unfortunately, don’t work as well as expected. You can see that from the CDC’s chart showing daily trends in new covid infections. When the vaccines first became widely available around the beginning of 2021, covid cases were about to peak. New cases declined rapidly after that, presumably due in part to the vaccines, but also to the natural ups and downs of the disease. Beginning in late summer, cases rose sharply again, reaching another peak in September. This would not have happened if the vaccines had been as effective as advertised:

Currently the CDC says that 78.6% of Americans have received at least one shot of an anti-covid vaccine, but at the moment cases appear to be rising again.

At Healthy Skeptic, Kevin Roche comments:

[I]t might be helpful if we had vaccines that appeared to actually make a difference in terms of reducing the number of cases and the rate of spread. The current ones don’t appear to do that for any length of time. It might also be helpful if a vaccine limited serious disease in the elderly who are most at risk. …
Part of the problem is our continued absurd testing regimens where we constantly are testing people who have no symptoms. The inevitable result is lots of low and false positives and disruption of the lives of people who likely are not infectious. It is also pretty clear, as noted above, that the vaccines aren’t keeping people from getting infected, at least according to the definition of infected used in our over-sensitive tests. So no matter what the public health “experts” say, we are headed to an epidemic of the vaxed. Vaccinating more and more people isn’t a long run exit plan.

Experience indicates that the vaccines are useful primarily for limiting the severity of breakthrough infections, not for limiting the spread of the disease. But that puts vaccines squarely in the category of self-interest. If people think getting vaccinated is the best bet for their own health, as I do, great. But there is little or no argument for forcing them to get vaccinated for the sake of someone else’s well-being.

Which brings us to Joe Biden’s new OSHA rule (an “Emergency Temporary Standard”) requiring all employers of 100 or more people to, in turn, require their employees to be vaccinated or undergo constant covid testing. This rule Emergency Temporary Standard raises at least two separate legal issues: first, does it lie within the constitutional authority of the federal government, and second, is it authorized by the OSHA statute?

Several states have sued to stop enforcement of the new OSHA rule, and earlier today the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order staying enforcement of the rule. The order says:

Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court.

As a lawyer, I have no prediction as to how this litigation will turn out. If we still have a Constitution, if our national government is one of limited, enumerated powers, the Emergency Standard is unconstitutional. Dealing with epidemics is a matter for state and local governments, which, unlike the U.S. government, have police powers. Try to find a clause of the Constitution that authorizes the new Emergency Standard. I’ll wait.

But we left the Constitution behind a long time ago. These days, who knows?

I will say this: the current hysterical insistence that everyone be vaccinated, whether they want to or not, is a harbinger of the totalitarian state that the Left wants us to become, not a reflection of the free country that we historically have been.

UPDATE: More here.

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