Bring back the Covid metrics

The current flare-up of Covid in Oregon is the worst one yet. And it's being accompanied by the worst flare-up yet in spinelessness on the part of our elected officials. The combination has record numbers of Oregonians sick, dying, or dead.

The latest reminder of the dual afflictions is this story, in which the chair of the Multnomah County commission, Deadly Deborah Kafoury, has rejected a request from the owners of bars, restaurants, and event venues that the county require all would-be patrons of such establishments to show proof of vaccination. You know, the way they're doing it in real cities like New York and San Francisco. The Latest Kafoury apparently cannot wrap her alleged mind around the concept.

It seems like nobody around here wants to make any rules about Covid any more. The bar owners want to be able to hide behind a government vaccine mandate, and ambitious politicians like Kafoury, who probably thinks she's going to be governor some day, aren't strong enough to take the political heat from imposing one. It's the right thing to do, but the politics are getting in the way.

It's typical of where we are in the summer of '21.

At the state level, we've noted before that our governor, Killer Kate, has washed her hands of all of it. Yes, she's requiring everyone to wear a mask, at least, but given how nasty the latest version of Covid has become, that isn't going to cut it. What is really needed are the kinds of restrictions we had last fall, or even last summer. 

Remember? There were "metrics," oh yes, the almighty metrics. Counties were ranked as lower risk, moderate risk, high risk, and extreme risk. The ratings were based on numbers of new cases, percentage of tests returning as positive, and hospitalizations. When a county got into the high risk category, there were state rules about how things could and couldn't operate. When a county got into the extreme risk category, things were shut down.

Whatever happened to that system? A lot of it has been conveniently taken down from the internet, but it was functioning as recently as late May. That's less than three months ago. (If readers have kept the details of the old system, I'd love it if they'd send them my way. I can't find them anywhere now.)

Under those rules, regardless of the availability of vaccines, I suspect that most Oregon counties would now be at a risk level that would warrant some state-imposed restrictions. Indeed, several counties are probably now at extreme risk, which not too long ago would have required indoor resturants, bars, and venues to close. Gyms, too.

Yes, there are vaccines, but they are far from foolproof – some fully vaccinated people are still dying – and a lot of people are never going to take the shots. Masks work, but only if nearly everybody wears them, and that isn't happening. Your mask protects others a lot more than it does you, and let's face it, many people just don't give a damn about others.

The responsible thing for the state to do is to fire up the metrics again, and start reimposing restrictions in places where Covid is out of control. But Killer Kate refuses to do it. 

There was a cartoon back at the start of Covid in which the choice was offered: Reopen Cheesecake Factory or Save Grandma. In August 2021, it's clear that Cheesecake Factory has won.