Throughout the worst stretches of the pandemic in 2020, Americans could endure knowing that the vaccines were on their way, and with them, they thought, a return to normal life.
Many Americans have gotten vaccinated – 165.6 million fully vaccinated, 193.1 million with one shot – and the country isn’t really in “lockdown” anymore. Just about all of the businesses that survived the forced closures and capacity limits are reopened. Just about every school district is scheduled to open this fall. Summer travel and vacation returned. Crowds returned for sports events and concerts.
And yet… mask mandates are coming back in some places, and the fights about vaccine mandates in workplaces are going to heat up fast. The Delta variant is this new wild card, disrupting the previous smooth rate of improving numbers, with no one entirely sure what the next month holds. Will any locality attempt to reinstate social distancing? Capacity restrictions in buildings? School closures and a return to distance learning because of a local outbreak? On top of all this, there may well be a need to get booster shots into arms in the coming year – at least for those most vulnerable to a breakthrough infection. Oh, and then there’s the question of vaccinating children under 12.
Until this week, Amazon had said it expected most of its employees to begin returning regularly to the office the week of Sept. 7 of this year. They just announced they’re pushing the return to the office back to January of 2022. That’s approaching two years away from the office! Apple pushed back its expectation of a return to the office from October. Google pushed it back from September to mid-October. Microsoft said October 4 at the earliest.
“Normal life” isn’t back yet, and it doesn’t appear “normal” will be coming back fully this fall. That probably ought to make the Biden administration nervous. And Congressional Democrats should be particularly unnerved about the prospect of running for reelection in 2022 in a country where COVID-19 or some variant of it is still disrupting the lives of Americans.
Our Jimmy Quinn reported that two Senate Democrats have joined their GOP colleagues to discuss the Wuhan lab where the pandemic might have started. This is good news for many reasons – but it also might reflect some Democrats realizing the pandemic is not going away completely anytime soon. That means questions about where it started aren’t going away, either.
If, God forbid, the wave of infections driven by the Delta variant or some other variant gets worse, and the fall and winter are not the full return to normalcy that a lot of people expected, Democrats and the Biden administration might get really interested in the origins of COVID-19 and the trail leading back to Wuhan. They may well want to remind Americans that whether or not the virus emerged from a lab, we’re in this ordeal because of the decisions of the Chinese government.