COVID Surge Meets ‘Apathy’ in California: Pandemic Fatigue, Democratic President

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A wintertime COVID-19 surge in California is being met with apathy by the public thanks to pandemic “fatigue” — and, arguably, the fact that a Democrat has replaced Donald Trump in the White House.

President Joe Biden has escaped blame for the surge, which extends far beyond California — though the administration has blamed Congress — held by Democrats for two years — for failing to fund tests and treatments, amid massive spending.

With Trump gone, there is less urgency in the media to report alleged failures in the fight against the pandemic, though the Biden administration has had the benefit of nearly three years of experience with the coronavirus.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the lack of public health responses is also due to “apathy” — that “Californians don’t appear to care” about rising cases and hospitalizations, and the slow uptake of vaccines:

Yet, even in this conscientious region, vigilance hasn’t lasted. As another winter COVID surge grips the region, large numbers of people are forgoing masks and skipping the latest booster — a vital tool in preventing serious illness as immunity from previous shots or infection wanes.

Since the emergence of vaccines and better COVID treatments — and the lifting of blunt governmental measures such as mask mandates — the public approach to the coronavirus has become more laissez-faire. Some call this approach the “figure it out yourself” era of the pandemic. But individual choices still exact a heavy toll on vulnerable populations, such as older and immunocompromised people, some of whom are retreating again from the public square.

Compounding widespread apathy toward the latest surge is considerable confusion over how to behave at this stage in the crisis. Experts say, in particular, that the rollout of the new bivalent vaccine booster — the first to target both the original coronavirus and the omicron family of variants — has been tepid. Without a strong marketing push and government resources put into distribution, many Americans are unaware of the booster’s benefits, or even its existence.

In Los Angeles County, the positivity rate exceeds 10% among those who have been tested for COVID-19, though it has dropped below the peak level of roughly 12% in late November, after the Thanksgiving holiday. Deaths and hospitalizations remain high, however.

Warnings of potential indoor mask mandates in the county have been met with a shrug, and there is little interest in blaming the Biden administration for the ongoing risk.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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