Home Covid vaccine Tax the non-empty | Monthly Washington

Tax the non-empty | Monthly Washington

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More than 700,000 People are flooding the badlands of South Dakota this week for what is sure to be the COVID-19 superpreader event of the year, the 81st annual event. Sturgis motorcycle rally.

We can expect most of the attendees to be vaccinated. But last year’s rally took place in blatant defiance of recommended health and safety protocols, resulting in hundreds (and probably thousands) of infections across the country. To hell with Covid. I went to Sturgis, ”he read Tshirts sold at the event. With the delta variant already in place, the consequences of this year’s event could be dire.

The antics of those who have not been voluntarily vaccinated are a growing source of frustration for both vaccinated Americans and legislators, including some Republicans. “[I]It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated people, ”Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said recently. “It is the unvaccinated people who are letting us down.” While the number of COVID-19 infections has exceeded 120,000 one day he overwhelming majority of hospitalizations and virtually all deaths have occurred among the unvaccinated.

Policymakers – and employers – have radically changed their treatment of vaccine shortages in recent days. Carrots, like one million dollars awards and scholarships, they are giving way to sticks and clubs, with vaccine mandates for government workers and proof of vaccination it will soon be required for activities like indoor dining. Life for the unvaccinated will become increasingly uncomfortable.

It should also get more and more expensive.

In a recent opinion piece by The New York Times, Elizabeth Rosenthal and Glenn Kramon proposed higher insurance premiums for the intentionally unvaccinated, in the same way that smokers also pay higher rates. COVID-19 patients are expensive, with average costs ranging from $ 51,000 to $ 78,000, depending on the age.

It is a good idea and we must do more along the same lines. Does an unvaccinated high school student want to play on the soccer team or participate in another high-contact sport like wrestling? Schools must double activity fees for those students to cover the cost of expenses like disinfection or medical expenses for teammates infected in an outbreak.

Does a traveler want to fly without vaccination? Airlines must add a “public safety fee” along with fees for checked baggage and extra legroom, and the proceeds will compensate flight attendants, airport personnel, and other professionals for sick days and lost wages.

Restaurants should reestablish COVID-19 surcharge many were adding to bills at the height of the pandemic (but giving it up for vaccinated customers), setting aside the funds for waiters and other front-line workers. Movie theaters and concert halls should set similar fees (again, waive them for those showing proof of vaccination). Perhaps local governments should even impose sales taxes on food and hospitality (with exemptions for those vaccinated) to defray the costs of testing, follow-up, and contact tracing (in essence, taxing those who are not intentionally vaccinated). .

None of these proposed sanctions would be disproportionately placed on low-income Americans, who have suffered the brunt of the pandemic. Rather, they would be aimed at travel, leisure, and other optional activities that are likely to facilitate the spread of the virus. People can still choose to remain unvaccinated. But if they do, they must bear the cost that choice will have for others around them.

There are precedents for this type of sanction. Some cruises charge unvaccinated passengers $ 150 extra to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing. Some employers are considering reducing the wages of workers not vaccinated for $ 20 to $ 50 per paycheck to cover the cost of higher premiums for employer-sponsored coverage.

The NFL has decreed even more draconian measures, announcing that outbreaks among unvaccinated players will lead to forfeitures, withdrawn paychecks and financial responsibility for losses from canceled games. (Congress, perhaps, should take a similar approach and hold unmasked and unvaccinated members personally liable, no campaign funds allowed, for COVID-19 testing by those around them, medical expenses and out-of-pocket hospital. incur in the event of an outbreak and loss of wages for those who must take sick leave).

Vaccine resistant people like to present their position as one of “Personal decision, “But” pandemics by definition are collective problems, “as University of Alabama epidemiologist Rachael Lee He said the Washington Post. The personal choice of each unvaccinated person has a social impact when that person becomes infected and / or infects others. The outbreaks lead to school closings, quarantines, days lost from work and unnecessary loss of life. Avoidable COVID-19 hospitalizations mean less emergency room space for people suffering from heart attacks and strokes.

Of course, many of those who remain unvaccinated are low-income Americans who face access and scheduling challenges. Black Americans are justifiably distrustful of a government that, historically, has mistreated them. But there is also a sizable subset of Americans for whom opposition to vaccination (and masking) is political and ideological, born out of misguided loyalty to former President Donald Trump or a disconcerting adherence to Conspiracy theories. Vaccination rates are significantly lower in counties that voted for Trump in 2020, and about 30 percent of Republicans say they “won’t get vaccinated” (compared to 5 percent of Democrats).

So far, we have not asked the stubbornly unvaccinated to shoulder their share of the broader financial impact that their “personal” decisions have on the families and communities around them. Instead, we’ve done our best to respect their perspective, spoiled their indecision, and given them a free ride on the backs of Americans who have tried to do everything right.

That has to change. Those who voluntarily resist vaccines must pay their fair share of the price, literally, for what their behavior has cost and is costing the rest of us.

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