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Bill Lawrence: Work together, don’t point fingers

We need more local heroes. Just after receiving my second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination recently in the basement of the Nevada City SPD market, I flashed on the famous dog sled relay to Nome, Alaska, where an outbreak of diphtheria raged in January-February 1925, almost a century ago.

Fortunately, Wikipedia came to the rescue and I read the details of the event that made the musher Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog, Balto, national heroes and celebrities. Twenty mushers, including some native Athabascans, and about 150 sled dogs delivered a canister containing diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles in five and a half days across the territory of Alaska under the brutal conditions of winter. Temperatures averaged minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heroic efforts saved the lives of approximately 28 children at a time when there was no vaccine against this bacterium.



Most of us don’t know anyone who has contracted this disease. Most of us cannot even spell the word. In 2015, there were only 4,500 cases reported worldwide — down from an estimated million cases annually prior to the widespread vaccination campaigns of the 1980s.

That is a success story, among many, the medical community can hang its hat on. We are experiencing another medical success story as pharmaceutical companies raced to develop vaccines against COVID-19. Federal, state, and local health agencies are performing the Herculean work to administer these vaccines to our citizens here in the United States. Similar efforts are underway worldwide.




Now is the time for more heroism. When I hear stories of people who will refuse to accept the COVID-19 vaccine, my heart breaks. Mistrust of the government and Big Pharma, along with generalized anti-vaccine sentiment, spread as misinformation on mass media platforms continues to thrive.

We need some heroes to step forward, stand shoulder to shoulder with our medical and public health leaders and not only publicly get vaccinated but encourage us all to do so. Who will these heroes be?

Let’s start with elected officials like our U.S. senators, our U.S. congressman, and our state Senate and Assembly politicians. How about the Nevada County Board of Supervisors?

Church leaders, school leaders, and, yes, even leaders of our local Restaurant Coalition. This coalition is the group that is promoting local county rule to speed up the opening of businesses and end the lockdown. It is time for these folks to step up and demonstrate qualities other than defiance.

In some of the most divisive times I have seen in my 70 years on the planet, we need to work together and not point fingers and we need to stop playing the blame game.

Believe me, COVID-19 is not listening to that rhetoric. Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep the faith.

Bill Lawrence lives in Grass Valley.


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