Webb Wrap: Trump deserves kudos for speedy vaccine development . . . Utah public education performance

It is exciting that COVID-19 vaccinations could begin in Utah within a few weeks. You can read all about the state’s phased distribution and prioritization plan HERE.

It will understandably take months for everyone who wishes to get vaccinated. But the state has a good plan, coordinated with the massive federal vaccination operation.

It is almost miraculous that two drug companies, with more to come, have developed effective vaccines in only eight months. Such development usually would take several years.

Pres. Trump has taken enormous criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But he should get credit for the rapid development of helpful therapies and the vaccines. His critics didn’t think it could be done.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman noted that  fact checkers from NBC might owe Trump an apology. They said his claim made in his GOP convention speech that lifesaving therapies and a vaccine would be produced before the end of the year was false.

In his Project Warp Speed, Trump marshalled all the forces of the federal government, and established effective public-private partnerships. A monumental effort has been planned to get vaccines distributed. In fact, his administration has worked very hard on all aspects of the crisis, acting swiftly to gather and produce PPE and other resources state and local government needed.

However, Trump has not always provided proper presidential leadership in tone and rhetoric. He has sometimes downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic and he should have been an advocate for wearing masks and following health guidelines. As in so many things, Trump’s rhetoric and tone left him vulnerable to criticism.

But he deserves credit for providing the leadership to produce vaccines and therapies in record time.

Reader Response. Doug Bergman, West Jordan: I recently moved to Utah and enjoy reading your commentary even when we don’t see eye to eye.

As you know, COVID is exploding as the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors. I am nervous about contracting covid and diligently mask up in order to go about my daily life to the extent possible. About 0.7% of Utah residents tested positive for COVID in the last week, including one of my son’s friends at school.  Meanwhile, many people remain remarkably carefree about the whole thing and are resistant to masking up, which can endanger the community due to inadvertent asymptomatic transmission.  Imposing a fine on non-maskers may help, but will likely engender anger.

Maybe the public would be more amenable to a “carrot” than a “stick”:  The State of Utah could, say, offer restaurants and other retailers a sales tax discount if they apply it to provide their indoor customers who properly sport masks covering nose and mouth whenever they are not eating/shopping with free dessert or another small benefit such as a gift card.  This would provide customers with an incentive to do the right thing.  Meanwhile, if small businesses could ever use a tax break of any kind, now would be the time.

This is merely a germ of an idea that should probably be brainstormed and analyzed for tax neutrality, although time is of the essence.  I hope writing to you will put this in the public sphere and start a conversation about “carrot” approaches to incentivizing masking.

Parting Shot. Ever wanted to live in one of the world’s most expensive cities? Me either. But, just in case you’re curious, here are the most expensive cities in the world, according to The Economist: Paris, Hong Kong, Zurich, Singapore, Osaka, Tel Aviv, New York, Geneva, Los Angeles, Copenhagen. My closest town, Malta, Idaho, didn’t make the list. We don’t have a stop light, but we do sport a gas station and a good little eatery that everyone calls The Hub.

If you have a comment, an item you think should be publicized, or just want to tell me I’m an idiot, shoot me a message at [email protected].