ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Holcomb: ‘Think beyond yourself’


Schoolchildren are now feeling the consequences from a significant number of adults being influenced by political rhetoric and rampant misinformation on social media.

Businesses are being adversely affected, too.

COVID-19 vaccinations have proven to save lives and reduce the chances of being hospitalized by the virus. Although “breakthrough” cases — those involving fully vaccinated people — have increased since the Delta variant of the virus began surging through states with low vaccination rates, breakthroughs still comprise just 0.4% of all COVID-19 infections. Drs. Kris Box and Lindsay Weaver, who lead the state Department of Health’s response team, recently shared those real numbers.

The doctors also cautioned Hoosiers that the pandemic’s latest wave will “get much worse” if residents reject face coverings and vaccinations.

They were right. School districts are now scrambling to update their plans to prevent further spread through their classrooms.

At least 15,000 students in a dozen central-Indiana school districts — representing 10% of their schools’ cumulative enrollment — have quarantined in just the first month of classes, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has not wavered in his strategy of leaving vaccine mandate decisions to local school boards, local governments and employers, but he says he supports any entities that issue such requirements. Holcomb also expressed exasperation with the state’s weak vaccination rate of 53.2% of eligible residents ages 12 and older.

Holcomb, who had his emergency powers to implement public-health restrictions diluted by the Indiana General Assembly last spring, said this approach is apparently what the public wants.

“We heard loud and clear from locals that they wanted this to be locally mandated,” Holcomb said in a statewide news conference. “(I) fully support it, understand it.”

But then he elaborated on the impact of that situation. He focused on school kids, shorthanded employers, and people believing social-media hearsay and political bluster instead of medical experts.

“It’s regrettable that so many of our kids are out of the classroom on any given one day,” Holcomb said. “It’s not just regrettable, it’s avoidable. And to the skeptics or unbelievers or deniers, I just plead to look at the facts, to look at the numerical data that shows we can all stay safe if you get vaccinated. And that truly is my appeal, is to get vaccinated. This is what is interfering with our supply chains. This is what is holding parts of our economy back. This is what is pulling our kids out of school. And while we have 3.1 million some who are vaccinated, the balance leaves a lot to spread. And that is having an adverse effect on others, not just potentially yourself, but others, and our economy, and our kids’ education. So, I would just ask to think beyond yourself.”

Send comments to [email protected].