Frank Luntz: It's time for Biden to publicly call on Trump to join him in the vaccination effort

Not gonna work, as Luntz himself admits to Don Lemon. You can’t have a bipartisan vaccine effort when the former guy is accusing the current guy every day of having stolen his job. And Lemon’s right that Trump would probably gloat over the offer rather than accept it.

Not gonna matter either, even if it happened. Luntz argues that giving credit to Trump for Operation Warp Speed and putting public pressure on him to push vaccinations might lead him to speak out more in favor of the vaccines, softening up resistance on the populist right. But Trump has already endorsed the vaccines several times, including during his speech at CPAC this winter. There’s no reason to think that endorsing them again would move the needle. (If anything, it might lead some hardcore anti-vax MAGA voters to resent him, a possibility he’s doubtless aware of.) In fact, one of Luntz’s own focus groups demonstrated how little influence Trump has on this topic. When he asked a group of 19 Trump voters back in March whether they’d trust the former president’s opinion on the vaccine or their doctor’s more, all 19 said their doctor.

Can’t fault Luntz for kitchen-sinking it with his proposal, though. He’s exasperated at how many stubborn vaccine holdouts remain, even with a hyper-contagious variant spreading, so he’s floating anything he can think of that might theoretically make a difference. L.A. County did the same thing by reinstating its indoor mask mandate. Mask mandates work at the margins, if at all, to reduce infections but the experts are desperate to slow Delta down as it runs wild and that’s all they can think to do right now. Watch, then read on.

Are new lockdowns on the horizon? Janet Yellen says yes, another desperate proposal. I say no:

The problem with lockdowns is that the communities that would most benefit from them are also the communities least likely to order them. Lockdowns are hard to justify in places with high rates of vaccination and easy to justify in places with low rates, but the latter tend to be rural and red and therefore resistant to all sorts of precautions against COVID. If they’re unwilling to get vaccinated or to mask up, they’re surely not going to tolerate another round of business closures from their local Republican leaders.

There’s good news and bad news with respect to Delta. The good news:

The bad:

It’s not just cases. Nationally, hospitalizations are up 36 percent since last week. How can that be when it’s almost exclusively unvaccinated people who are getting sick and unvaccinated people skew young? Well, according to hospital workers, Delta is not only more transmissible but seems to hit patients harder, including younger adults. Which is tragic by dint of their youth and the fact that they could have avoided their fate by getting a free shot, something overwhelmed medical staff increasingly resent:

While experts are still uncertain if Delta is deadlier than the original coronavirus, every physician and nurse in Missouri whom I spoke with told me that the 30- and 40-something COVID-19 patients they’re now seeing are much sicker than those they saw last year. “That age group did get COVID before, but they didn’t usually end up in the ICU like they are now,” Jonathan Brown, a respiratory therapist at Mercy, told me. Nurses are watching families navigate end-of-life decisions for young people who have no advance directives or other legal documents in place…

That they are in this position despite the wide availability of vaccines turns difficult days into unbearable ones. As bad as the winter surge was, Springfield’s health-care workers shared a common purpose of serving their community, Steve Edwards, the president and CEO of CoxHealth, told me. But now they’re “putting themselves in harm’s way for people who’ve chosen not to protect themselves,” he said. While there were always ways of preventing COVID-19 infections, Missourians could have almost entirely prevented this surge through vaccination—but didn’t. “My sense of hope is dwindling,” Tracy Hill, a nurse at Mercy, told me. “I’m losing a little bit of faith in mankind. But you can’t just not go to work.”

“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Rochelle Walensky at this morning’s White House briefing, not quite accurately. “It was always a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” David Frum responded. “What it is becoming now, at least in the United States, is a *preventable* pandemic of the *willfully* unvaccinated.” Right. That’s why Luntz, Yellen, and L.A. County officials are flailing to come up with solutions. Ending the pandemic is now simply a question of will, and we don’t have the national will to do so.