The shutdown of Manhattan High’s football program is a reminder that the coronavirus is still out there, still capable of disrupting life at the very least.
It’s also yet another prompt to get vaccinated.
The high school had to stop its offseason football conditioning program after “several” positive coronavirus tests on kids who were participating. That decision was made last Friday; the shutdown will continue until June 15.
Football offseason workouts are both indoors and outdoors; the current policy is to require masks indoors only.
This all occurs at a time when, in many ways, it has begun to feel as if the coronavirus pandemic is over. Mask requirements are largely gone, and — personally, since I and my entire family are vaccinated — it feels as if there’s no real reason for restrictions.
And yet the virus is still circulating. There was an uptick in positive tests here in the most recent reporting period. We expect another update on Wednesday, but that wasn’t available yet at the moment I was writing this.
Anyway the more relevant figure is that only about 40 percent of the relevant population here is vaccinated, according to state government data. More than half the population over age 12 is unvaccinated.
Vaccines are now widely available for people ages 12 and up. There’s just no reason for kids to be attending the Manhattan High football program who haven’t been vaccinated. Vaccines are safe and effective; not getting vaccinated means you put yourself and others at risk, and you bring on consequences such as this one.
Football is perhaps a useful metaphor. It’s a team game; if one player flubs an assignment, the play won’t work. Doesn’t matter if you have a spectacular running back if the left tackle whiffs his block. Everybody has to do his part for the team to succeed. Well...if kids don’t get vaccinated and the whole program has to shut down for a week and a half, that doesn’t exactly help the cause, does it? That’s whiffing your block.
I am sympathetic to the kids and families who caught the virus, since it can be a nasty illness. I don’t mean to pin blame on any one person.
I’m simply saying that decisions against getting vaccinated have broader consequences than people might think. This is one of them.
We’re all going to get increasingly accustomed to normal life, going maskless, attending social events, playing and watching sports, and so forth. But lurking in the background is the threat of this virus, if we continue to drag our feet on vaccination.