Matthew Reddin launches a new column on The Big Smoke called Hello America, From Australia, offering an outsider’s perspective on events happening here in America.
Greetings, American readers, from the other side of the world—specifically in Melbourne, Australia. Here, it’s the future: between 14- and 17-hours’ worth, depending on where you live, and I must say that the future is bright.
Here in the future, we’ve always turned our lonely eyes in your direction—mostly to see what hideous new deep-fried thing you’ve decided to eat (I do recall seeing a deep-fried blueberry pancake batter-wrapped sausage on a stick once and thought it was part of a comedy bit, but you people seriously eat that shit) and also because you folks make the biggest, loudest, most exciting movies. We like them, so, if you could churn out a few more Marvels and Star Warses, that’d be great.
But aside from that, I’d equate the general doe-eyed positivity to the election of Joe Biden (current job approval 54%), and I speak with no authority on the matter aside from the fact that we’re not en-masse doomscrolling Twitter anywhere near as much these days. Gone are the multiple daily occasions where the sight of [a certain name] trending on social media would be greeted with the response, “Christ alive, what’s he done now?”
It’s heartening to see a direct correlation between plummeting COVID numbers in line with the commencement of work done by what appears—from the outside—to be a competent, empathetic administration. For it seems that when you elect neo-con assholes to positions of responsibility, the fact that they are philosophically opposed to governments doing anything at all, means that problems tend to arise when the occasion calls for governments to actually do stuff. Put progressive, logical, practical, empathetic people at the helm, and stuff appears to get done. On occasions like these, doing things is really quite helpful.
I don’t think it’s an accident that COVID infection rates, hospitalization rates, and death rates went off a cliff in the second half of January. I can’t rule it out, but numbers tend not to lie to this degree, and the pandemic’s perpetual harm is lessened as each day passes. It turns out that a government championing mask wearing, social isolation, and—amazingly—vaccines has results. Life has found a way, and a normal seems around the corner. Getting everyone vaccinated is proving a challenge, but not one the US looks to be unprepared for.
The methodologies are quite interesting. It’s fascinating to see how one US state is offering the chance to win a $1 million lottery in a vaccine-incentivizing contest. It’s a curious notion that you’d need to be lured in to get vaccinated against a deadly global pandemic-inducing virus with a Big Cash Prize, but these are some crazy times.
Here in the future, we’ve always turned our lonely eyes in your direction—mostly to see what hideous new deep-fried thing you’ve decided to eat …
A million dollars is quite incentivizing. So too are the lures being dangled in front of New Jersey residents: get your first shot, get a free beer. And in Maine, where getting your first shot of the vaccine before the end of May allows you to choose from several outdoor-themed prizes, including fishing or hunting licenses, or day passes to state parks. It’s as though the 1.344 million good people of Maine are all simultaneously contestants on The Price Is Right.
Whatever works, right?
Vox is reporting the private sector doing some of the heavy lifting when it comes to promoting people getting vaccinated, including paid leave (UPS, Bank of America, Home Depot, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and others), cash bonuses (Amazon, the Albertson grocery chain, Kroger, Walmart), free Lyft rides to vaccine hubs (Target), and on-site vaccination clinics (AT&T).
You’d think that people wouldn’t need a reason to get vaccinated, presuming of course that people have memories, and know that with increasing numbers of America’s population having gotten the vaccination, hospital admissions for COVID-related illnesses has plunged, and with it its associated deaths (821 in the week ending May 22, as opposed to 25,458 in the week ending January 9).
America seems to be doing the easy part quite well. 288 million doses had been administered as of 27 May, equating to 131 million fully vaccinated people; just shy of 40% of the population. Excellent work. More to be done, but quite impressive.
Here in the antipodes, our government is being run by aforementioned neo-con assholes (arseholes, in the local parlance) who so severely botched the vaccine rollout. Even after having fully emerged from the pandemic in November 2020, my own city of Melbourne is going back into lockdown for a week. Those who need the vaccine have either not been able to get it or have been plagued by unfounded hesitancy; those who want it, for the most part, can’t access it; it all comes down to the federal government having completely mishandled, botched, fucked up the vaccine rollout.
They literally did the hard part (preventing the spread) easily and have done the easy part (vaccines) hard. We are, for the first time in a while, envious of the United States.
America, we are looking to you (in the past) and admiring what’s going on there. And it’s been a long, long time since we’ve been able to say that. Keep it up.