The news from the COVID-19 front in Colorado is pretty much universally bad. But as worrisome as the numbers are, let’s try to ignore them for the moment and concentrate on where the heart of the problem lies.

So, let’s put aside, for the moment anyway, that Colorado is No. 5 among states in percentage of the population infected with the virus. Or that no one seems to know why, exactly, Colorado has been hit so hard.

And, put aside, too, that the state’s hospitalization numbers are at a crisis point. On Friday, the state issued a warning that at the present rate of infection, there would be as many as 1,393 people hospitalized with the virus by the end of the month. Three days after that somewhat dire prediction, there were already 1,394 COVID patients hospitalized.

Mike Littwin

If you can, try not to panic when you read that the concept of herd immunity — once thought to be the Holy Grail for keeping the virus in check — is now more like a distant dream. “I think, for now, you should set aside the notion of herd immunity,” Dr. Jonathan Samet, an epidemiologist and the dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, told the Colorado Sun. You see, despite all the exhortations from the governor and others, it looks as if the immunity rate in the state is actually falling. Why? Because the efficacy of the shots eventually wears off — hence the need for boosters — and, studies show, the natural immunity from getting the disease is not all it’s cracked up to be.

You don’t have to forget that health officials in the metro area are advising that people, including the vaccinated, wear masks again in public indoor settings — the advice seems good — but let’s wait, if we can, to consider why anyone believes an alert is more appropriate than a mandate.

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Because here’s the thing: The burning question before us today is whom do you trust for advice on whether or not to be vaccinated — Aaron Rodgers or, uh, Big Bird?

Sadly, I’m serious.

You don’t have to be a Marxist, or even Joe Manchin, to understand that we are approaching Karl Marx’s dictum on history — that it repeats itself first as tragedy, second as farce.

For tragedy, we’ve got more than 750,000 dead in America from the virus and millions more around the world.

For farce, Rodgers vs. Big Bird?

Oh, and for Marxism, we’ve got an Arizona state senator concluding that Big Bird, an apparent pro-vaxxer, is a commie. 

For those who may not follow professional football or State Farm insurance commercials, Rogers is the great Green Bay Packers quarterback who misled America, not to mention his teammates, about whether he had been vaccinated. When asked, he told reporters that he was “immunized.” 

He wasn’t. Not vaccinated. Not immunized. But much, much criticized.

And when it was learned that Rodgers had tested positive for COVID, forcing him to miss a game, which the Packers promptly lost, he repeated for all his many fans the same kind of junk science you might hear from, say, Tucker Carlson or any number of right-wing talk show hosts.

I don’t know where to begin. Rodgers began his defense by insisting that he was not “some sort of anti-vax flat Earther” before going on to say that he had put together his own immunity regimen including ivermectin, of course. The non-flat-earther might have checked out the statistics — that, in the month of August, the unvaccinated are six times more likely to be infected than the vaccinated and 11 times more likely to die. 

I’m not sure whether he consulted any actual doctors in his immunization effort, but he did seek advice from Joe Rogan, the podcasting martial-arts fighter who had refused to be vaccinated and who has also come down with COVID. I wonder if Aaron got the Rodgers rate for that advice. In any case, Rodgers apparently missed the part where Rogan later conceded that when it comes to medical science, he’s a bleeping “moron.” 

But maybe even worse is the notion that when Rodgers became a punch line for late night comics and other such philosophers, he claimed to be a victim of, yes, “cancel culture” and of “the woke mob.” You see, I thought he was a victim of his own lies. At least Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr. and other athletes — Kirk Cousins, Kyrie Irving — have told the truth about not being vaccinated. 

It was bad enough that Rodgers, clearly playing from behind,  said Tuesday he took “full responsibility” if anyone felt “misled” by his earlier statements.

Which brings us to Big Bird, who would not tell a lie, I’m pretty sure.

You may have heard of Big Bird’s apparent communist-inspired advice on vaccines, though. He tweeted — yes, Big Bird has his Twitter account because why not? — “I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy. Ms. @EricaRHill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!”

On Sesame Street, Big Bird is now and for always (we hope) 6½ years old and therefore now eligible, along with all children ages 5 to 11, for the vaccine. My 6-year-old grandson got his first shot on Saturday. He said his wing didn’t feel sore at all. Go figure.

This little piece of advice for kids — which was made in conjunction with a CNN special on kids and the COVID vaccine — fired up a lot of Republicans, starting with, of course, Ted Cruz, who feigned (I’m going to give him credit for actually being smarter than this) outrage.

In retweeting Big Bird’s tweet, Cruz wrote, “Government propaganda …. for your 5-year-old.”

Why would Cruz take on Big Bird? Something about owning the libs — even the pretend avian kind — and, of course, riling up those Trumpists who aren’t already sufficiently riled up about, say, the Jan. 6 House Select Committee’s subpoenas or critical race theory.

The truth is that pro-vaxxers are winning the battle — in the latest poll of Colorado voters, 74% said they were pro-vaccine and 20% said they were against — but still losing the war. There are still way too many people who haven’t gotten their shots. There are still large pockets of the state where a significant percentage of people couldn’t care less what Jared Polis or Joe Biden or Big Bird has to say. 

And so the virus continues to spread, particularly in Colorado and other Western states. And so the hospital beds are filling up. And so, I imagine, is Big Bird’s Twitter feed.

Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.

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