News that the Pfizer vaccine could be OK’d as early as next week for inoculating kids as young as 5 years old is a welcome development during a period in which case numbers are declining after a summer spike.
We’d note that at this time last year, COVID-19 cases were just beginning to reach frightful peaks during the pandemic’s second wave, prior to the emergency approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for adults.
With cold weather driving more people indoors, coupled with in-person school, you might have feared a repeat of last year’s spike. But with the delta variant giving many people the incentive to get inoculated and more and more companies and government agencies mandating vaccines, positivity rates have fallen to near pandemic lows, at least locally.
In densely populated suburban Cook County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the seven-day rolling positivity rate as of Oct. 23 had fallen to 1.9 percent. It’s no surprise that suburban Cook County is among the top three regions in the state for having its 12+ population fully vaccinated, at more than 62 percent.
The percentage is even greater among Cook County residents age 18 and older — almost 77 percent. The only county with a higher percentage of adults vaccinated is DuPage County, next door, at a little more than 78 percent.
The data is clear: Vaccines are helping reduce the spread of COVID-19, even in the most populous areas of the state. Rural areas with low population density and low vaccine rates are seeing higher positivity rates. These are not coincidences.
If you haven’t received a vaccination yet, it’s easy to find a place to walk in and get one — your local Walgreens and CVS stores, for example — and they’re free. If you have questions you need answered, get the facts at vaccines.gov.
Vaccines are safe and while they can’t guarantee blanket protection against infection, more people who are vaccinated mean fewer people who will spread it. We can’t say this enough: Public health is not a political issue. Controlling the spread of COVID-19 is a matter of public good.
Anyone encouraging you not to be vaccinated is not interested in the general welfare of the public, which makes you wonder — what are they interested in?
There will not be a day in the lives of Michael Smith’s family, where his loved ones won’t think of him and the senseless violence that took his life. They will re-experience that trauma and the loss again and again.
When two of the men involved in Smith’s murder pleaded guilty to a lesser charge — for putting a contract on Smith’s life — and were released from jail after serving a little more than four years, we can’t imagine the outrage Smith’s loved ones must have felt.
On Oct. 25, a judge sentenced the man who pulled the trigger to 65 years in prison. In Illinois, anyone charged with first-degree murder must serve 100 percent of the sentence. Smith’s killer will be in prison until he is 95 years old.
It won’t make Smith’s family whole, but the sentence is just.