CVS needs employees pronto.
And this should unnerve you.
Before this week ends their goal is to hire 25,000 workers.
That’s 25,000 workers in five days.
This is not Amazon or Walmart prepping for the holiday rush; far from it.
They are the No. 1 pharmacy in the USA with 9,946 locations.
CVS — just like a number other pharmacies — is being slammed by three tidal waves.
The looming federal OSHA mandate ordered by President Biden means there will be a major surge in COVID testing.
Weekly testing is an option in the decree that all employers with 100 or more employees are facing a pending workforce vaccination mandate.
The hammer is a $14,000 fine per violation. If you are a business person and you’ve dealt with the OSHA you know they use fines a like a jack hammer.
As such you shouldn’t expect any employer to balk.
While they are expected to have the option of making vaccinations 100 percent mandatory for their employees that might be more than a bit dicey navigating bargaining groups.
That means weekly testing is going to crank up, way up.
If the rate of full vaccination reaches 80 percent that means of the 100 million workers covered by the order, there will be 20 million people each week getting a swab pushed up their nose in order to keep their jobs.
CVS is concerned this will overwhelm them. They are struggling as it is to keep up with their pharmacy services and to staff stores due to the reluctance of many to work apparently as long as there is a pandemic.
It is clear the federal government despite the FDA balking is moving toward mandatory booster shots for all eventually after the most susceptible receive them.
For now those 65 and older as well as those at a higher risk of contracting COVID have been cleared to receive booster shots.
This is occurring just as health experts are warning a severe flu season is coming.
That means booster shots, weekly testing, flu shots, and whatever initial vaccine stragglers there are will be converging en masse on CVS and other pharmacies.
This is clearly neither well thought out or well planned.
Making this all the more chaotic is the high probability people opting for weekly testing that are impacted by Biden’s mandate will be asked by their employers to cover the tab.
And if that doesn’t happen there is going to be a lot of added costs passed on to consumers.
That’s because if the rules in place governing mandatory drug testing of employees apply to mandatory COVID tests employers can also be in the hook for time to travel to and from test sites as well as taking the actual tests.
And if places like CVS conducting tests look like is 5 a.m. on a Black Friday at Walmart during pre-pandemic times in terms of people in line things will get real costly and time consuming.
Whether it is a backdoor way to push people to cry uncle and get vaccinated is open to debate.
There are two things to keep in mind.
The first one hardliners who use the death count as a weapon in debates, the fact we have just surpassed 676,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 — the fatal toll from the Great Flu Epidemic that started in 1918 — doesn’t make the current pandemic more deadly.
That’s because there were 106 million Americans in 1920 as opposed to 329 million in 2020. Three times as many people would have to die — 1.9 million souls — before it equals the flu tragedy.
This shouldn’t undercut the seriousness of what is now happening but it does in a backfire manner. There is no need to keep looking for ways to make things look extremely serious. They already are given the frequency of deaths. But when you take numbers out of context it gives fuel to those raging against steps being deployed to get a handle on COVID. There is no need to juice the argument beyond what is happening.
Realistically at this point the effort should be to win over vaccine holdouts and also convince them to still take other cautions such as masks seriously.
It’s hard to do that when you give them something to chew on to feed the narrative the crisis is being hyped up.
The other point folks would be remiss to note — particularly those who think there is government overreach in play — is our mobility today is making containment much more of a challenge. Back in 1919 people didn’t travel 2,000 miles in six hours nor did they travel 5 miles one way to work each day let alone 60 miles.
This means the spread of the virus and how rapid new variants mutate is at the speed of a jetliner as opposed to a rickety 1919 Model T Ford.
Things are changing rapidly. People don’t need to embellish or use scare tactics regardless of their views.
This is a serious virus as well as serious steps being taken to combat it. Both the virus and how we respond to it can have lasting consequences that damage our health and our liberties.
We need to reach a middle ground if we are ever going to get the death count anywhere near acceptable numbers given COVID is likely here for the long haul just like the flu.
The fact people keep getting vaccinated is a good sign.
At the same time it is a bad omen that people believe one or two shots make them invincible.
Yes, vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective. And neither are masks or social distancing.
It is also reckless to keep selling herd immunity as a magic bullet without constantly stressing this means reaching an acceptable death rate.
That’s because unlike flu that has a dominant strain each year that is highly transmittable and is basically a one “season” a year thing clearly mutates much slower than COVID.
It is why getting an acceptable handle on COVID could be years away.
In order to get there we need to accept facts change as more complete data is gathered. And to avoid waiting for data to react, there are a lot of measures that in the scheme of things are no better than educated guesses. There’s no way to avoid that when you are navigating in uncharted waters.
And being part of the solution means not running interference for the problem.
As things stand now the only way to accomplish that is for as many people as possible to get vaccinated and for elected leaders at the state and federal levels to pursue mask mandates for all in enclosed public places and crowded outdoor venues regardless of vaccination status. Such requirements need to be in place until mutations are slowed down given data shows they can slow down the spread in varying degrees or — in the case of vaccines — greatly reduce the number of people that get ill or die.
The end result will be far from ideal. It will mean people will still get extremely sick as well as die. But it will be at more tolerable levels
To be honest I’m not wild about spending periods of time over the next two to five years or so wearing a face mask. But it is sure better if it helps people I’ve never met to avoid having to rely on a ventilator to breath.
We all want to live free and die free.
But it shouldn’t be at the price of indiscriminately sacrificing other lives.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com