There are many things I could write about this week’s gubernatorial Covid briefing. I could discuss the administration’s persistent cherrypicking of statistics that make it look good. I could talk about Education Secretary Dan French playing another round of three-card monte over the progress of the extremely incomplete Test to Stay program. I could dissect Gov. Phil Scott’s attestation that he’s more worried about the workforce crisis than the Covid pandemic.
I could write about how Scott and his officials insisted they are successfully handling hospital and ICU capacity issues on the same day that VTDigger published a story entitled “Calling for help: Rural hospitals struggle with overwhelmed ICUs, finding beds.”
But I’m confining myself to a single subject.
Back on November 10, in a post called “The Definition of Insanity,” I questioned the governor’s wisdom in sticking to his game plan even though the numbers kept getting worse. One month later, the numbers are even more dismaying. Nevertheless he persists.
So here’s “Definition” part two. Let’s assume that Scott will continue to emphasize vaccines and boosters and reject any tougher measures. If that’s what he wants, then he has to double down on getting the message across. Because it’s clear that he hasn’t managed to persuade enough of the vaccine-cautious to inhibit the virus’ spread.
Sure, he does the weekly briefings, and that’s a good thing. He and his officials are on the line every week taking all questions. But it’s not enough.
The governor needs to start making use of his popularity and his bully pulpit. He should hold one public event per week in an area with low vax rates. Press conferences, rallies, visits to vaccine clinics, whatever. Mix it up. Hell, do an old-fashioned campaign-style “honk and wave” at major intersections. That’d get him some TV time.
If he wanted to up the emotional content, he could (radical notion alert) invite families of Covid victims to make a direct appeal for vaccination. His officials should be available to any media outlet that will have them. The administration should be flooding the airwaves and the digital space with vaccine information. There should be bus signs. Get his buddies at the Association of General Contractors to put vaccine signs on their work vehicles. Hire those small planes that fly signs over big events. Have the Education Agency print vaccination brochures and distribute them to every schoolkid. Retrieve Jim Douglas from his secure undisclosed location. Ask other prominent elected officials of all parties to sign on to the effort.
We’re talking maximum impact. Make it impossible for anyone not to get the message.
If the governor is going to insist on vaccination first, last and always, then he has to do more to convince the people. He’s in the best position to do it. I don’t care that we’re near the top of the nation in many vaccine metrics. It’s not good enough to staunch the flow of the virus. We need more.
It reminds me of a word… what is it now?…
…oh yeah. Leadership.