In about February or early March of last year it became apparent that a new, bad, rapidly spreading contagious virus was quickly moving throughout the United States. We all are familiar with some of the actions taken by our federal government from that point on. Probably the most important, and probably the most disparaged, was the establishment by President Trump of Operation "Warp Speed.”
Whether you like or dislike President Trump, what happened under his leadership with Operation Warp Speed is a modern day miracle. The task was to develop and implement a vaccine that was effective against this new disease named COVID-19. What normally would take four to seven years to develop, test, get approval, manufacture and implement such a new vaccine was accomplished in a period of about 10 months. Unbelievable and never done before. President Trump claimed with the establishment of Warp Speed that the objective was to have a vaccine deployed and 20 million people vaccinated by the end of 2020.
Well here it is the first week of January, 2021, and only about two to three million people have actually received the vaccine. What happened?
The vaccine was developed, tested, approved and manufactured with initial supplies available by early December. Plans were in place to distribute the vaccine throughout the country to the States where they would then be responsible for the actual process of vaccinating their citizens. The U.S. Army had been tasked with developing these plans for the early distribution and in general things were going according to plan. So why was there such a shortfall in actual individuals receiving the vaccinations?
Only one answer seems appropriate: the states were not prepared to implement the vaccine
once it was delivered to them. Look at Rockwall County as an example of why things are falling further and further behind.
First, only three establishments in the county have approval to receive and conduct vaccinations. About 60 establishments have requested this approval and are in various stages of receiving approval from the state. What is the delay? There is nothing new here as all along the state should have realized some one had to actually administer the vaccine.
Where is a plan that explains to the citizens what is to happen and what they should be doing to receive the vaccine? Currently, information has been distributed as to who would be in category 1a and 1b, but what about the rest? What category are they in? Who is responsible for a plan for the county: the state or the county?
These are simple questions that should have been answered long ago, not when the vaccine is available and just sitting waiting to be used.
Ten years ago this month I was sworn in as Rockwall County judge. Four great years later I left office to "retire" for the third time. Since I left, many issues have faced the commissioners court; none more important than now with the major issue of providing a viable plan and information to the citizens of the county on the implementation of the vaccine.
We see an end in sight to the last nine months of isolation and wondering. Let's now end this with an orderly plan available to all that explains who, where, when and how the vaccine will be administered.
Jerry Hogan is a former Rockwall County judge and can be reached at 214-394-4033.