Susan Estrich: Message from the hot spot: It's about vaccines

Summary: It is literally a life-or-death situation, and we have done the world's worst job of controlling the pandemic. What is wrong with us?

Susan Estrich
Susan Estrich commentary
Tribune graphic

There's a message we are hearing every day: Somehow, by June or July, everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.

You will survive, if you live that long.
I understand congressional anger. I hope we all share that anger.
In our civil state, these are the Holy Temples literally stomping on the Constitution.
But there is only one thing more important than taking the important, symbolic steps of impeaching the president and then trying him in the Senate.
It's vaccines. The distribution plan has been abysmal here in L.A. County, where vaccines are most desperately needed. The hospitals are, quite simply, full. There are more and more triage tents outside. The hospitals that serve the mostly poor Hispanic and Black populations are getting besieged with very sick people, but so are the ones on the Westside of town and in the valley.
The legendary Cedars-Sinai, aka the hospital all the celebrities go to, with good reason, had zero ICU availability at last check. If it did, it would be filled within minutes. A friend of mine ended up having emergency surgery — she is fine — after four hours in the ER. Which was good. They kept her for two nights, sent her home, and she was back at 4 a.m. People who are sick enough to be hospitalized tend to stay for weeks, not days, meaning no relief in sight.
In L.A. County, the infection rate is 20%. If you get in line for a test, there is a 1 in 5 chance you are positive. Another record shattered, worse on one side of town than the other. But even that is a bit deceptive, since almost every one of those houses on the Westside has a Hispanic housekeeper or nanny or elder care aid or handyman who lives in another neighborhood. So, too, for the grocery checkout. Or the deli.
Nate 'N Al's, Larry King's favorite Beverly Hills deli, was closed down because of COVID cases at the same time King was hospitalized at Cedars. Did anyone really think old Jewish mothers were making the fresh chopped liver?
The most alarming thing in the morning news, by my lights, was the story that President-elect Joe Biden is calling out his vaccination team for not moving fast enough. The armed forces will undoubtedly be out, as well they should be, to protect the Constitution and our democracy, and they will be in full force, regardless of what Trump does or does not say. His most recent round of statements is so infuriating that it is hard not to take the bait, hard to let him escape scrutiny for his worst misdeeds.
But there isn't time.
There isn't time to convict Trump.
And there isn't time to waste in getting Americans vaccinated.
If what Americans saw on television last week was not enough to leave them deeply troubled, and for some it will not be, nothing said on the floor of the House or Senate will be.
There could be no images more vivid than these, and Trump will be forever linked to them, regardless of what Congress does.
I can only salute the courage and genius of my former student Rep. Jamie Raskin, who was just as passionate and brilliant then as he is now, and who, in the face of great sorrow, has stood up for the Constitution. Inciting a riot inside the United States Capitol that resulted in death and serious injuries meets any standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors." No testimony is required; we all saw it on TV.
But even such an important process has to give way to the urgent situation that will be facing this county and this country once Joe Biden takes the oath of office.
The pandemic won't stop by itself come Jan. 20.
It is literally a life-or-death situation, and we have done the world's worst job of controlling the pandemic. What is wrong with us?

Susan Estrich can be reached at

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