The average daily death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has been more than 2,000 over the past week, bringing the total number of people lost in this country to the pandemic to more than 864,000.
As a reference point, that’s more American deaths than the population of Wyoming, or Vermont, or Alaska, or North Dakota, with South Dakota’s 886,000 coming up fast. Sometime next week, the pandemic’s effect on this country will be equivalent to taking the city of Charlotte, population 874,579, and wiping it from existence.
Great as it is that we have vaccines, and great as it is that those vaccines are helping to blunt the effects of the extremely transmissible omicron variant, it’s still three 9/11’s a week worth of deaths.
Whether it’s growing numbness to the death all around us, a determination to grind our way through it, or simply having no choice but to be dragged along by the machine of capitalism, what should be an absolutely staggering amount of continued tragedy has become sort of background noise.
The National Football League would like to drown it out a bit more. We’re just a few weeks from the Super Bowl, after all.
So, on Friday night, the time that any business in America puts out news that it has to put out but would rather avoid any scrutiny over, the NFL announced a rollback of coronavirus testing.
The league’s post about this plan, on its own website, was bylined “Around the NFL Staff,” and included the lines, “The Friday memo, obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero…” and “According to Pelissero…” and “Pelissero also noted…” and “Pelissero reported, per a source familiar with the situation.”
It’s not a huge change to the NFL’s already watered-down protocols, just that unvaccinated players no longer have to get daily tests, only symptomatic players do. In a way, that’s coming into line with a lot of the rest of the country, where people are filling out daily health screening forms to attest that they’re fine before reporting to work, and only getting tested if they feel ill.
The difference is, the NFL has the resources to do regular testing, and failing to take advantage of that puts everyone who comes into contact with those players at greater risk. That’s just not as important to the league as making sure that playoff games are played with full rosters.
Meanwhile, ESPN, one of the league’s paying partners, published a puff piece about Aaron Rodgers that included the line “He doesn’t think he’s a jerk, as some people have implied. All he’s doing, in his mind, is being true to his beliefs.”
Let’s not let that be simply implied. Rodgers, the unvaccinated liar who has spent months now whining about being silenced while never going more than 15 minutes between interviews, is a jerk. But he fits right in with this league, because all they’re doing, in their minds, is being true to their beliefs.
They believe in making money and bulldozing any obstacles in their path to making more of it.