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Your Morning Matters: How will you spend your science years?

Are you considered fully vaccinated if you don’t get a COVID booster shot?

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, and when my dad was born in 1934, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 59 years old. By the time I came along in 1960, it was about 67. By 2000, it was 77. And, despite the pandemic, the average life expectancy in 2021 is 79.

So, if you are railing against vaccines, science, et al., here's my question: Do you plan to spend the extra decade or two — depending on your age — railing at the very science and medicine that gave you an extra decade or two?

The story of progress over the past 80 years or so was perfectly encapsulated in a 2016 report by the Hamilton Project: "The reduction in the prevalence of infection-related deaths is a story of technological innovation, chiefly concerning antibiotics and vaccines. Antibiotics reduced the incidence of many bacterial infections and, importantly, made it possible to conduct more-ambitious surgeries [e.g., excision of cancerous tissue] by preventing postsurgical infections. For viral infections like smallpox, measles and polio, vaccines provided a relatively inexpensive and powerful solution."

But it wasn't just medical innovations that we take for granted: "In addition, a host of public health actions improved health and limited infectious disease: clean water, sanitation, and behavioral changes all played important roles. ... Nearly half of the total mortality reduction for major U.S. cities from 1900 to 1936 can be attributed to the introduction of water filtration and chlorination. ... More recently, public health campaigns aimed at reducing smoking and encouraging seatbelt use have reduced mortality rates."

Let’s take a key component of longevity: From 1960 — the year I was born — to 1988, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. declined from 26.0 to 10.0 infant deaths per 1,000 births. In 2020, it was down to 5.69 percent. MEDICINE! SCIENCE! Want more? In 1916, polio infected more than 27,000 Americans and left more than 7,000 of them dead. The last year in which there were more than 100 polio deaths was 1960 when 230 people died. In 2019 in the U.S., there were zero cases and zero deaths. MEDICINE! SCIENCE!

So, I don’t understand those who rail against medicine and science. You are not conjuring some higher form of patriotic expression; you’ve reverted to the hysterical 4-year-old we’ve all seen at the doctor’s office — panicked, heels dug in, thrashing out in some misguided notion of self-preservation. We were all 4 years old once. But it’s not cute anymore. Worse, to act that way with no appreciation for how medicine and science have improved your life makes you seem woefully unaware and, frankly, entitled. 

Now let’s go and make today count!

Here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

Are you considered fully vaccinated if you don’t get a COVID booster shot? 

Some businesses are requiring employees and visitors to show proof of complete vaccination against COVID-19, but now that booster shots are in the mix, what does it mean to be fully vaccinated? And who is eligible for the Pfizer booster shot? Reporter Katie Camero has some answers.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 43,115,321 confirmed cases; 690,429 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 9 p.m. Sept. 27.
  • In Ohio: 1,393,696 confirmed or suspected cases; 21,820 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,415,049 confirmed cases; 29,151 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 27,651 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 20,465 in Trumbull; and 12,094 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 34,869.37, up 71.37 points, or 0.21%.

Other matters

As the Biden administration engages in talks with the European Union about dropping tariffs on its steel exports, many, including U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, are concerned about the threat that relaxing those trade measures would have on Ohio's economy. Mahoning Matters

Youngstown city officials and representatives of area block watch organizations are expected to attend a community open house meeting at Taft Elementary School on Wednesday to discuss safety. Mahoning Matters

Sixteen Sebring McKinley High School students who are Ecology Club members opted to spend some of their free time last weekend participating in Cleanup Day projects. Mahoning Matters

Three city of Youngstown representatives will inspect the idled Chill-Can project site Friday to determine its condition as part of a $2.8 million breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against its owner, M.J. Joseph Development Corp. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

According to the Youngstown State University COVID-19 Dashboard, the university reported that 33 people tested positive last week. That includes 30 students who live off campus, two employees and one student who lives on campus. WFMJ

A group of student and faculty protesters at Youngstown State University gathered outside Tod Hall on Monday to say getting vaccinated should be a personal decision, not one enforced by the government, the university or its union leaders. WKBN

The 11th application period for TechCred funding will open Oct. 1 and close Oct. 29. Through TechCred, businesses can address their workforce training needs. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]

In case you missed it

Don Ritenour, owner of YoFresh, aims to provide fresh, quality food to the Mahoning Valley through a meal subscription and delivery service emphasizing an “eat good, feel good, do good” mission through community outreach and collaboration. Mahoning Matters

This story was made possible by Farmers National Bank.

Your comments matter

“He needs to just not run for re-election. He’s behind in all the polls. His administration is corrupt and he’s a career politician who has done nothing good as governor.”

David Helmick, on Gov. Mike DeWine, whose top lobbyist, a man linked to an ongoing federal bribery probe but never charged, resigned Friday after three years on the job.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

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Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 39 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. He also teaches journalism at YSU.
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