Good intentions unmasked by peer pressure

As we’ve watched another rise in the number of COVID cases spurred by the highly contagious Omicrom variant, my wife and I have begun wearing our masks again in most public situations. Stores. Church. Thunder games.

I’ve been feeling pretty smug about myself in my new KN95 mask purchased on Amazon.

However, sometimes my good intentions have turned into a total failure.  I wrote about one incident that happened on a road trip last year.

Let me tell you about a more recent instance.

Last week, I was invited to the launch event for a new Oklahoma City business publication. It was a great event in which about 100 or so people attended. 

The event was held at a co-working space on Main Street downtown. I arrived shortly after 5 pm, parked on the street, put my mask in my back pocket and promptly forgot about it before I walked into the event.

I immediately ran into several people I knew and took a few minutes to network before the scheduled program began. None of my acquaintances wore masks, but I wasn’t thinking about that.

As I was chatting with someone, I saw a friend of mine who is in the public relations business walk in. She was fully masked.

Then it hit me, I had my mask with me, but had never put it on.

I was proud of my masked friend, but ashamed of my own lack of conviction, I guess you call it.

I wasn’t practicing what I’ve been preaching.

Was it absent-mindedness, bowing to peer pressure or misguided confidence that my vaccinations and booster shot have made me bulletproof?

I’m pretty sure it was peer pressure.

Because of the Omicrom variant, COVID is racing through our population, both here in OKC and nationwide. None of us are bulletproof.

We all need to do better. I need to do better.

Why the unvaccinated are taking a political stand


Back in early January of this year, I was pretty excited to snag an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at Mercy Hospital. Nimble fingers and computer savvy allowed me to find a time on the county health department website and complete the registration form before someone beat me to it.

So, I was able to secure both doses of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of January. Mercy ran the operation incredibly well and only allowed us to enter the facility within 15 minutes of our appointment.

That meant there were virtually no lines. Much appreciated, Mercy.

Similar vaccination sites were set up around the city, including a giant operation at the fairgrounds that could vaccinate hundreds at a time.

Then what happened?

Despite evidence that shows the COVID vaccines are incredibly effective, the numbers of people flocking to vaccine sites quickly dwindled. Health care providers anticipating a crush of people seeking protection from the potentially deadly COVID virus sat idly, waiting for patients who never arrived.

The need for vaccination sites that could handle hundreds at a time evaporated and most closed up shop. Now you can schedule a vaccination at your local Walgreens or CVS and have no trouble finding open time slots.

Oklahoma vaxxedI just peeked at the numbers, and while 46 percent of my fellow Oklahomans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, less than 40 percent of us have been fully vaccinated against COVID.

Those are pretty disappointing numbers, but I’m not surprised.

Just like wearing of masks over the past 15 months or so, getting the vaccine has been turned into a political statement. And we’re a Red state.

When I hear people say they don’t trust the vaccine or how it was developed, that’s not the real message I’m receiving.

To me, there’s no doubt that these are the same people who supported Donald Trump and bought into his BS about the COVID-19 pandemic being a hoax, yada, yada, yada.

Sure, there may be some people who are merely procrastinating.  But when you look at maps that show low rates of vaccination, the standout states with low numbers match up pretty well with the Red states that supported Trump.

And we’re watching COVID infections rise dramatically in the Trump hotbed states like Missouri, across the South and in Oklahoma.

So, what are the implications?

Well, we’ll watch our neighbors and our elderly relatives get sick. Some will die.  Even those of us who are vaccinated are at risk of infection because of our unvaccinated fellow Oklahomans.

All because of their proud vaccine resistance that has its roots in the Trump insanity.

A story in today’s edition of The Oklahoman reports a new poll that shows that the majority of unvaccinated Americans say they do not plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows 56.5% of Americans have gotten at least one dose, and 43.5% have not received one. Of those people, a poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 35% say they probably will not get the vaccine, and 45% say they definitely will not.”

As one who is proudly vaccinated, I reluctantly keep my mask at hand. I fear more disruptions loom in our future. All because of the unwilling who are making a political statement by shunning the vaccine.

So, what’s the point of all of my rambling?

What we’re seeing in the unvaccinated is a collective display of the Ugly American. The me-first. The selfish who would never consider doing something for the greater good.

That’s ‘merica. That’s “freedom,” as defined by Oklahoma Gov. Stitt.

Sadly, the pandemic is far from over. And it’s no fault but our own.