Primary elections in West Virginia are slated to take place on May 12, in less than two months. Unless there is a miracle we have no reason to expect, COVID-19 will remain a concern – but hopefully not as bad as it is today.
Ohio officials took an apparently unprecedented step on March 16: to protect public health, they postponed the scheduled elections.
“We must not force (voters) to make this choice, the choice between their health and their constitutional rights and duties as American citizens,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
Given the situation this week, DeWine is right. Many Ohio voters have reportedly been reluctant to go in public, possibly to crowded polling stations, to vote on March 17. The same may be true for the Western Virginians on May 12.
It is too early to draw conclusions, of course. But Governor Jim Justice, Secretary of State Mac Warner and others in West Virginia should start thinking about what to do if COVID-19 remains a problem in mid-May.
We must lay the foundations for postponing our primary elections.
In the meantime, voters may want to consider using the advance voting process, which is now scheduled for April 29 to May 9. State officials may also want to think about how to do this. It is clear that extraordinary measures must be taken to protect the health of voters.
Federal officials are already criticized for failing to act more quickly to prepare the Americans for COVID-19, particularly with regard to the availability of kits to check if people have been infected with the virus.
There is virtually nothing that state officials can do about this or many other concerns. Getting ahead of the May 12 primary is something that can be done, however.
Critical test for a new vaccine
Edward Jenner, the inventor of the smallpox vaccine, has been known to have saved the most lives. The disease had a much higher mortality rate than the new coronavirus which currently locks many people in their homes; about 80% of children and 60% of adults who contracted smallpox died from it. In the 20th century alone, it killed over 300 million people before the vaccine eradicated it worldwide in 1979.
According to the World Health Organization, the polio vaccine has saved 10 million people from just paralysis since 1988 and prevented 500,000 deaths.
A global measles vaccination campaign that started in 2000 has averted around 23 million deaths by 2018, the organization reported.
But despite these extraordinary victories in the science of the disease, too many people have forgotten or ignore the ravages that certain diseases experienced in the world before the vaccines were available to fight them. This collective amnesia has allowed the development of the anti-vaccine movement, whose irresponsible members believe that vaccines exist to fill the pockets of Big Pharma. They ignore the fact that the smallpox vaccine has been so successful in eradicating the disease that it is no longer routinely administered. …
As social distancing and other efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 intensify, people naturally hope for a miracle similar to that of Edward Jenner in the form of a vaccine that would protect against the virus. When a plague is upon us, vaccination begins to look good.
There is encouraging news on this subject and discouraging news as well. This week, people saw what appeared to be a bright promise in the dark: a Seattle volunteer receiving the first dose of an experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus. It was developed by a Massachusetts company called Moderna, one of dozens of companies looking for a vaccine around the world. Israeli officials recently announced that a group of researchers there are also on the verge of proposing a new candidate vaccine. A biotechnology company from San Diego is also working on the problem. …
In emergency situations, vaccines can be accelerated, but rapid is a relative term. Public health officials have warned that even if these early vaccines continue to look good, an accelerated vaccine will not be available until 18 months, perhaps a little earlier. …
Even in extreme situations, testing is essential. An ineffective vaccine could do more harm than good by giving people the false impression that they are protected. But the United States and governments around the world should support these vaccine development efforts in every way possible and accelerate those that appear safe and effective. …
The Inter-Mountain of Elkins, W.Va., published this editorial on March 18 regarding the primary election in West Virginia:
The Los Angles Times published this editorial on March 18 about vaccines: