IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3 December 2021WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932This time we’re readyBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift WASHINGTON — People vote with their money. In 2020 they crashed the stock market over Covid, so, what is the market telling us about Omicron, the new Covid virus? When news first broke about a patient in California diagnosed with Omicron, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 900 points. This new variant was said to be potentially more deadly and more transmissible than its Delta cousin. Worries that a fragile economic recovery could be set back once again took hold on Wall Street. Four business days later, the Dow had recovered much of what it lost the previous Friday as cooler heads took stock of the threat. President Biden called Omicron a cause for concern, not panic, and he assured the American people there would be no lockdowns. In remarks from the White House on Thursday, Biden announced the creation of “family mobile vaccination clinics” to provide greater access for extended families to get their jabs. And he promised to make rapid at-home coronavirus testing free for more people and reimbursable for those with private insurance. The president cited a poll that said 30 percent of unvaccinated people are now saying they will get the vaccine because of the Omicron threat, and he reminded the American people how much better off we are today due to the vaccine and other public health measures. When the stock market collapsed a year ago, March, one by one sports events shut down, businesses closed their doors, and the American people were told to stay home except for absolutely essential errands. We cheered front-line essential workers in health care and supermarkets and police forces and followed conflicting Covid updates from the White House and New York Governor Cuomo. We had no defenses. We did not know the virus was airborne and for months we wiped down surfaces, which we didn’t need to do, and we didn’t wear masks, which we did and do need to do. Now we know better. We have vaccines, and in the best of outcomes, we will learn that these vaccines work against Omicron. If that’s not the case, drug company scientists are already at work on a new vaccine if needed to specifically target Omicron. Clinical trials take a long time, but the FDA granted emergency use waivers to Moderna and to Pfizer and to Johnson & Johnson to get their vaccines to the market. Billions of doses have been jabbed into people’s arms, and there are no serious side effects. If a new vaccine is an adaptation of existing vaccines, it should be safe, and we will soon learn how effective it is. In the meantime, we have social distancing, and we have learned to protect ourselves by staying away from large gatherings with unvaccinated people. It is a completely different situation from a year ago. Biden pointed out that 72 percent of the country is vaccinated, and 86 percent of seniors, the most vulnerable population, are protected. He expressed the hope that his efforts to encourage more vaccination and to protect us all by requiring international travelers to show proof of a negative covid test 24 hours before boarding a plane, as opposed to the current 72 hours, will be taken in the spirit it is intended – a public health protocol and not an infringement of individual liberty. The stock market is one measure of expectations, and it is telling us that people are investing money because they don’t expect the economy to fold up like it did when the Pandemic first arrived and forced everybody into quarantine. We were defenseless then, and now we know how to cope with this pathogen. This time we are ready. Douglas Cohn’s latest books are The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers). Twitter: @douglas_cohn © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc. Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
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