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Not getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is like driving while intoxicated, health expert says


By Aya Elamroussi, CNN

As the US averages more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths daily, not getting vaccinated is akin to driving while intoxicated, one health expert said Friday.

“We need to start talking about the choice to remain unvaccinated as the choice to go out and drive intoxicated,” CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Wen’s remarks come after the Biden administration announced Thursday a Covid-19 vaccine mandate plan that directs the US Labor Department to require all businesses with 100 employees or more to ensure their workers are either vaccinated or tested once a week. President Joe Biden also signed an executive order requiring all government employees to get their Covid-19 vaccine shots, with no option for regular testing to opt out.

And while some Republican officials have criticized his move as overreaching, health experts say the President should have implemented stricter measures to curb the recent surge of Covid-19 cases.

“From a public health perspective, it is not overreach at all. And in fact, I wish that they came out earlier and went even further,” Wen said. “We’re in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes. We have more than a thousand Americans who are dying every single day. We, as a society, set laws that protect people’s health and well-being all the time.”

An average of 1,110 people died in the US from Covid-19 each day over the last week, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Thursday. The rate of deaths since late August is the highest it has been since early March.

While 73.5% of those ages 12 and up have been vaccinated with at least one dose, tens of millions of eligible recipients remain unvaccinated as the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant continues to grip pockets of the country. Around 62% of the same age group is fully vaccinated as of Friday.

“The vast minority of Americans are resistant to vaccination, but that’s where the virus has been circulating,” CNN Medical Analyst Jonathan Reiner told CNN’s Don Lemon on Friday. “We live in a country that has rules. You can’t smoke in most buildings in the United States, and you can’t drive drunk. You can’t smoke on planes. And you can’t blow virus into my face.

“That’s how it has to be in this country. And if you’re going to be a persistent threat to the public health by refusing to get vaccinated, well your actions have consequences, and the consequences may be you can’t work at your job.”

An August poll from Gallup showed that 56% of Americans favor vaccine requirements at work while 53% support them for restaurant dining and 61% approve of them for air travel.

And as for those who have not yet gotten their shots, it’s not too late to convince them, former US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Friday.

“We need to remember that most of these people are not what I call ‘vaccine-resistant’ — some people say ‘anti-vax,’ I find that term pejorative,” Adams told CNN’s John Berman. “Most of these people are in the movable middle. They’re vaccine-hesitant.

“I found that when I talk to them with compassion and with empathy, I can convince a lot of them over time to get their vaccination.”

Health care systems strained

Six US states saw at least a 10% increase in new Covid-19 cases in the past week compared to the week before, data from Johns Hopkins University showed Friday, while the other states didn’t see a change or experienced a decline in cases altogether.

Alabama, one of the states that saw the recent drop in new cases, is now facing a shortage of 60 intensive care unit beds — an uptick of 20 from last Friday, the state’s Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said.

That’s 60 patients “who are receiving critical care because they’re chronically ill, and yet they don’t have an ICU bed,” Harris said Friday.

“They’re being cared for in an emergency department or a ward bed that’s been converted to an ICU room or on a gurney in the hallway,” Harris said.

Alabama on Thursday reported 2,667 Covid-19 hospitalizations and 53 deaths, he added.

In West Virginia, 252 Covid-19 patients are in ICUs and another 141 are on ventilators, marking the most people hospitalized with the disease since the pandemic began, Gov. Jim Justice said Friday.

“A high percentage of the folks in the hospitals are unvaccinated,” Justice said. “We lost another 38 people since Wednesday. We’re going to continue to lose people in this surge without any questions,” he said.

Minnesota health officials linked at least 69 Covid-19 cases to the State Fair, according to a statement obtained from the state’s health department by CNN affiliate WCCO. The Minnesota State Fair’s website says the event ran from August 25 through September 5 in Falcon Heights.

Heated debate over mask mandates

Meanwhile, the debate over mask mandates remains heated in many states, especially when it comes to schools.

In Kentucky, schools will have the choice of whether they will mandate masks, after the General Assembly overrode the governor’s partial veto on that portion of a bill pertaining to Covid-19 provisions in schools, officials say.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the part of the SB1 bill that would eliminate the mask mandate for K-12 schools and leave it up to school districts to decide if masking is necessary, he said at a media gaggle on Friday.

Beshear said that the Senate’s recent rejection of a statewide school mask mandate is the wrong choice — and one that will reap harmful results.

“Mask requirement for schools is not only the right thing to do for our young people, especially those who are too young to even get vaccinated,” Beshear said. “It’s our best way to keep our children learning in the classroom.”

Meanwhile in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that Biden’s vaccine mandate plan is unconstitutional.

“A member of the executive branch of government does not have the authority to mandate something such as this,” Reeves said.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Melissa Alonso, Jaide Garcia, Claudia Dominguez and Jennifer Feldman, Mirna Alsharif, Rebekah Riess and Liam Reilly contributed to this report.

CNN - Health / Coronavirus / News




  1. Your choices have created a great country to literally have the worst pandemic numbers in the world! Good job at keeping us number one at something!! But at least you know what is in the vaccine, unlike all the GMO laced foods you’ve been consuming, i wish people would make a big fuss about what exactly is in our food like you have about the vaccine. A label saying non GMO is pathetic.Enjoy your GMO meals and beverages while bashing on a vaccine that can save millions of your fellow humans.

      1. so, do you scrutinize all those other scripts you take, or all that “food” you consume, or is your vacuous investigative chemistry reserved for this particular political stance? – this is truly an amazing time to be alive

    1. If you think you’re not eating GMO laced foods you need to do some more research. Newsflash! We’ve been genetically modifying our crops about as long as we’ve been farming.

      1. His point is that the vax does nothing for transmissibility which means it is a purely personal choice. Does it lesson sever symptoms and this deaths? Of course it does. That’s what the data says. The data also tells us the vax does nothing to stop transmission so let’s be clear and honest about that.

        1. The key is that it DOES lessen severe symptoms and deaths! Which in turn means maybe some of the 100s if not 1,000s of Oregonians waiting – many in pain – for procedures delayed due to the COVID-19 patients (and yes, the staffing shortage) might get their procedures done soon. And it means more people won’t die – of COVID, from, with, whatever.
          It’s about community and caring for others. We’re all in this together, whether some believe it or not. One person’s actions (or inactions) DOES affect others, though many sure seem to be finding ways to make it about something else.

          1. Okay, my comment to the OP was proving his comment false.
            To address your comment – “On Aug. 5, Dr. Kobi Haviv, medical director of Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem, said in a Channel 13 TV News interview, 95% of the severe patients are vaccinated.”

            Are people in Israel also waiting in pain for procedures? Since this is a global pandemic we can learn lots by what’s happening around the world. Are the people in India waiting in pain for hospital procedures? We know the answer – they are not because their hospitals are not full of Covid patients…they use ivermectin.
            You’re attempting to make this pandemic, created in China and funded by Fauci, about those who refuse the vaccine. If the goal is to end the pandemic why not advocate for therapeutic protocols that include ivermectin? Why not let the people choose based on the evidence? If we are wrong what harm additional harm would it cause?

            1. “Despite high levels of so-called “breakthrough cases,” morbidity in the country hasn’t overtaken the peak seen in January, which is widely attributed to the vaccination rollout. On Sunday, 25 deaths were recorded in Israel — a far cry from the record high of 101 on January 20 this year. Over the past month, 476 deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded in Israel, compared to 1,471 in January. But hospitalizations and deaths are rising.”

              I am not “making” anything. I am stating facts, such as that the vast majority of America’s hospitalized and recent deaths involving COVID-19 are among those not fully vaccinated. And that those who are vaccinated have a much milder case if they get the virus. I’ve linked to reputable sources dozens of times and will continue to do so if need be. FDA has not approved Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment. Several poison control centers have reported a surge in calls from those who took the drug.

              1. I understand what you’re saying, Barney. I’m not disputing the fact the the vaccine reduces symptoms in the vaccinated. You pointed out that our hospitals are full of unvaccinated and, therefore, preventing those in pain from a needed procedure. I’m saying the same is true for Israel with the highest vaccinated rate in the world and that 95% of those hospitalized are fully vaccinated. So we can assume there are also people waiting in pain for procedures in Israel.
                My point is that once we achieve the same vaccination rate of Israel how do we know our hospitals won’t be full of the vaccinated like we see in other regions where they have a higher vaccination rate? I understand the the FDA has not approved ivermectin for the treatment of Covid. I also know they point to a spike in overdosing on ivermectin. I think the report you shared said some 1,200 reported cases of overdosing. There are 50,000 reports of Tylenol a year. If doctors were allowed to administer ivermectin there would be zero reported overdoses of ivermectin.
                How many millions of doses of the vaccine were pumped out prior to FDA approval? Based on studies and incredible real world data we know that ivermectin not only drastically reduces symptoms of Covid but also stops transmission…something the vaccine does not do. Why not run a study and let those who are not vaccinated be treated with ivermectin? As previously stated what harm could it do?

                1. I’m not going to sit here in Bend, Oregon and claim to know all the FDA knows. I know all the lines – bought by big pharma, crooked, etc.
                  We all have to decide on our own who to trust. But some ARE playing politics on this, over hate for the current president, or just hate of “overreaching” government, etc.
                  I just don’t get that a lot of doctors and others are supposedly lying. Clearly there are studies all over the map on this drug, the vaccines etc. But to pick which to believe based on who you back for president, or whether you never trust government… no.

                2. It remains extremely offensive to claim that the thousands of non-vaccinated in hospice- with heart disease- liver failure- are somehow “not getting vaccinated out of spite- and that is what I keep seeing here !

            2. your on line handle is a demonstrable lie – the content of your posts… well,… lets just say “that word proof, i don’t think it means what you think it means”

              1. Took a few days off and I come back to to see a typical response from someone who is ill-equipped to participate in this discussion. Out of sympathy I’ll play along – please help me understand where I’m wrong.
                In regards to my handle…we’ll be having a discussion very soon – let’s just say I didn’t think “lie” has the meaning you think it does. 😉

          2. Sorry Barney but that whole argument is bogus. You could use the exact same logic than and say that overweight people have been clogging up our health care systems at a much higher rate than Covid for decades in the US. Our health care costs as a country would be way smaller if we mandated a maximum caloric intake that these overweight people could have under the same logic. Would it be right? Of course not. That is a personal health decision that is their own just like this vax. The whole argument about “caring for your community” when transmission rates are the same is total crap.

            1. But the vast majority of those seriously ill or dying now are among those not fully vaccinated. That counters so many such claims. That is why hospital staffing has gone from bad to worse and the resulting impacts on so many. The new mandates ARE for the vaccinated as well, so the thing you and others throw out there so often is a moot point. The benefits of the vaccine are not.

                1. Yes. It’s not the issue. This vaccine is not 100% effective and can have rare but serious side effects, like many, many medicines. But since the current mandates are for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike… that point is relatively moot. That hospitals and doctors report the vast majority of those falling seriously ill and even dying from the virus are among the “not fully vaccinated” is where the debate focuses now.

                2. “The mandates are the same?” Wrong. The mandates are not the same with quartile rules, vaccination card requirements for flights, working, etc. Not even close. The only mandate that is the same are the masks which are a joke on its face allowing people to believe that t-shirt material will stop an airborne virus. Your posts are beginning to show your biases and that is not good for a moderator of any forum.

                3. I was referring to masks and physical distancing requirements being equal for all. Yes, a harder line has been set regarding vaccines – I could debate both sides regarding how that could help/not help — because of the vast misinformation that is leading to “vaccine hesitancy” or refusal.
                  I am trying very hard not to show “my biases,” but to state facts, make logical responses and linked refutations of some of the information shared here.

  2. At this point, I’ve used all the arguments and posted all the reliable links I can to convince people to care enough about themselves and others to get the vaxx. I and others including the moderator of this site have refuted misinformation by posting links to studies and accepted reasearch. Nothing has worked to convince the hardcore nonbelievers. So, as far as I’m concerned, from now on, que sera, sera. The updated Darwin’s theory is proved now not so much for survival of the physically fittest but rather survival of those most open minded to trusting the scientific knowledge we as a species have been blessed to have gained through human intelligence and labor. Who knows what Covid variants will befall us in the near future. God have mercy!

    1. VAERS reports more than 600,000 deaths and illnesses “related to and associated with” those vaccines. Once you accept this data as fact- Darwin starts to look a little smarter !

        1. VAERS has been a million times more transparent than anyone claiming “Death By- Due to- Because of” the Covid virus ! VAERS clarifies “deaths- infections-illnesses” are “related” to the vaccines- all 600,000 ! Yet you still see no hypocrisy here ???

    2. It’s about time you realize that this is a personal decision and correct you cannot change other’s opinions just because you really really want to. I for one have made my decision and like all the other big boys and girls accept any outcome that may result in it.
      Get the vax or not. Mask or not. I don’t care but just don’t try and tell me what I “have” to do. Worry about yourself and take the appropriate precautions that YOU fee are needed. Pretty darn simple.

  3. CNN’s “Health Expert” isn’t much of an expert if she is still pretending that unvaccinated people are a big danger to other people, when within the past month we have found out that it is the vaccinated people are the big spreaders of Covid because they don’t feel bad enough to stay home. And yes, the statistics show that the vaccine provides a good level of protection against getting sick enough to be hospitalized even though it doesn’t keep you from getting and spreading the disease. So it is a reasonable decision to take the vaccine for this level of protection. But since with a little investigation you find intelligent people who are very very concerned about long-term adverse effects from the vaccine it is also a very reasonable decision, especially for young and healthy folks, to avoid the vaccine like you would avoid the plague.
    And I am not believing the poll that shows over 50% of Americans supporting these mandates. Anytime Americans are coerced into doing something they don’t want to do we are all giving up a level of our freedom to be Americans.

    1. Overall- this analogy with drunk driving is in extremely poor taste- there are thousands who “can’t” get the Jab- they are getting lumped into this “drunkards” BS.

      1. Tough judgment calls, criticism of others’ views can still be okay… the line can get blurry in both/all directions, it’s not about viewpoint but the words chosen. Please focus on disputing the claims, not attacking the person personally. Thank you.

  4. Simply put voluntarily unvaccinated covid victims at the back of the line for treatment. As the hospitals run out of space, kick them out, and deny them first. Dont force anyone to take the shot. Do force them to own their decision.

    1. That’s not what the oath they take says. You triage based on severity of illness or injury. Next step would be to “kick out” smokers with lung disease. Anti-community. Already heard from someone who claims they are doing that, and that it’s the reason the most seriously ill are the unvaccinated. Just deepens the divisions and hardens hearts. It came up as a reporter’s question at a governor/OHA news conference a few weeks ago.
      Dr. Jeff Absalon-St. Charles said that was a “dialogue popping up” among physicians.
      “At this point in time, that’s not happening in the state. I have to say, we’re in a dire situation. Difficult questions are being rais we may very well need to address or define how we approach in the future.”
      But state Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said the “gut reaction” is not the proper one. “We won’t discriminate against people for the choices they made.” That they don’t want to limit caer but may have to do so, and will ‘set out the criteria to do so in the fairest way possible. It won’t come down to whether someone is vaccinated or not — that’s an easy way out.”

    2. What you suggest is a very slippery slope that would end up looking much more like a bad movie plot than a free society. You fail to think of the implications and the reality that one day you would be on the wrong end of the warped policy you are now okay with.

  5. How do you expect people to make rational decisions that require critical thinking skills when you graduate kids from high school who can’t even read. I lay most of the ignorance in our population,( anti-vaxxers, Trump supporters, etc), right at the feet of our educational system. Fix that and a lot of this goes away.

  6. All of you vaccinated people are a JOKE!! Yourfear does not mean I am forced to comply. Vaccinated people are the biggest carriers of COVID!! So cover your snout and mouth and shut up…since your vaccine works so well to protect you…why are you worried about me getting vaccinated…you are protected…RIGHT?? NOT!!! Like wearing a condom with a hole in it!!!

    1. Because the unvaccinated, officials say, are filling hospitals/ICUs and delaying vital procedures for many, many people for many, many months, worsening staff shortages etc.
      If folks don’t have any sense of community or caring who gets the virus in serious fashion… there’s still the impact their decisions ARE having on others.

      1. If that’s the case, then the “pool” of unvaccinated to get sick has to be much smaller. And if that is true, How is it that the unvaxed are filling up the hospitals at such a greater rate than a year ago when we had zero people vaxed?

      2. Still haven’t heard a good argument for why someone should get the vaccine when the virus has such a miniscule risk to themselves due to their own life factors (age, no pre-existing conditions, not overweight, etc…). Or why someone should get it if they have natural immunity. Studies so far show natural immunity provides better protection than the vaccine alone. It also can’t be to protect others either, because others can get the vaccine to protect themselves and if they get a breakthrough case they would have gotten it regardless as even vaccinated spread the virus.

        1. Not sure why you don’t consider a greatly reduced impact on the health care system of vaccinated individuals not a “good argument.”
          Nor have I seen any convincing evidence that natural immunity negates the benefits of the vaccine on those people. In fact, I’ve read – and linked – the opposite. But science keeps evolving, whether one’s opinions/beliefs do or not.

          1. Do you really even read the comments Barney? Nowhere did I say natural immunity negates vaccines. However, in a apples to apples comparison, no study shows natural immunity is better than vaccination. So many times you make a comment or link that is only tangentially related to what is being discussed. Also, about the reduced impact on the healthcare system, people just need to be honest with themselves about whether they are truly in the category of having lifestyle factors that make the virus a non-factor. (IE, not overweight, young, no pre existing conditions, no smoking, or if they had covid before…etc), then the impact on the healthcare system of unvaccinated would be much less.

            1. I don’t judge people in pain. In fact, I try very hard not to judge people in some general ‘it’s your own fault” way. It’s anti-community.
              I am talking strictly about the stats here and across the country about hospitals’ COVID-19 and ICU patients.

      3. Yes And overweight individuals having been filling out hospitals with heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments for years. All those doctors treating them could have been working on cancer research or other diseases that attack indiscriminately. Think of all the cancer patients that could have been saved if our energy did not go to deal with people who just chose to over eat and not work out. Your argument is flawed on so many levels.

        1. The flaw I see is comparing a virus that with a vaccine can greatly reduced the impact of a virus to a variety of both lifestyle choices (who are we to judge?) and genetics that no one can control.
          It’s not a “what else could they have been doing to make much better use of their time?” argument/debate.
          Heck, that’s the one I/we face in dealing with this comment section.

        1. Civil comments get through. Ones that violate TOS don’t — for EVERYONE.
          I don’t know the breakdown. Anyone says “never” or “always” in relation to his is overstating.
          Of course there are people who have valid medical or religious issues regarding the vaccine. That’s why exemptions exist.

  7. That is correct, it’s called the hippocratic oath. In keeping with this article, rather than immediately descending to “cheeta head” “tali joe” or other unconstructive pejoratives, a doctor would not deny care to a person injured while driving intoxicated. I’ve read here long enough to be dismayed with what liberties Americans have fearfully traded for perceived security. And the division that the “root for your sports team” kinda blind support for party has devolved us to.

  8. Barney how come you haven’t posted this story? It’s even on your Lord’s page, CNN. Fauci thinks we should look at natural immunity. There are so many studies that say you have more immunity that the man made mRNA, but they tell you that you still need the jab and won’t test for antibodies with this illegal mandate. Why????

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