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Grim Reapers Highlight Fatal Error of Sen. Shirkey’s “Herd Immunity” Strategy

Grim Reapers Highlight Fatal Error of Sen. Shirkey’s “Herd Immunity” Strategy

Specters deliver 30,000 blank death certificates in anticipation of upcoming body count

A dozen Michigan People’s Campaign volunteers gathered at the Capitol today dressed as the Grim Reaper to protest Sen. Shirkey’s embrace of the “herd immunity” strategy for COVID-19, which experts say will lead to 30,000 dead. The Reapers held ironic signs applauding Senator Shirkey for his leadership on the issue and encouraging the embrace of herd immunity.

After roaming the halls of the Capitol handing out dead flowers to legislators, the Reapers gathered at Sen. Shirkey’s office to symbolically deliver 30,000 pre-printed death certificates that will be needed if the state embraces his strategy of not trying to stop the pandemic.

“Herd immunity” is the idea that you can stop the spread of a virus by letting 70%-80% of the population get infected, thereby creating a level of natural immunity. This notion is, quite plainly, insane. Public health experts warn that a herd immunity strategy without a vaccine would result in 30,000 deaths just in Michigan, in addition to the nearly 8,000 that have already lost their lives. These deaths would disproportionately impact low-income Michiganders and people of color. Needless to say, few Michiganders have access to the experimental treatments available to Donald Trump, or the gold-plated health insurance of a state senator.

There are so many problems with this reckless idea. 

Proponents argue that the elderly and vulnerable can be isolated, allowing only the young to be infected. However, the virus has struck down many relatively young people. Just ask the family of State Representative Isaac Robinson. The virus also leaves many survivors with long-term heart and lung problems. Furthermore, it is impossible to isolate the elderly and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions because they often live in families with younger people and have younger caregivers.

Secondly, it may not even be possible to reach herd immunity without a vaccine. Immunity to some viruses, like polio, is lifelong. However, immunity to other viruses like the common cold and flu may last as little as 6-12 months. Virologists fear that our immunity to COVID-19 may be short-term since it is a coronavirus similar to the cold and flu. Either way, it is simply too soon to know how long acquired immunity will last. 

If immunity is not long-lasting, Sen. Shirkey’s proposal will send tens of thousands of Michiganders to the grave for an impossible goal.

We know what this is really about: ramping up the economy to promote Donald Trump’s re-election prospects and to protect corporate profits.

“Sen. Shirkey’s idea that we should all try to get COVID-19 as quickly as possible is ludicrous and obscene,” said Rev. Dr. Jill Hardt-Zundel, Pastor of the Central United Methodist Church of Detroit. “Tens of thousands of Michiganders would die for no reason. We need to follow the science, protect ourselves and our families, wear masks, and stay united until a vaccine is ready. Promoting more infections, and thus more deaths, in pursuit of herd immunity is simply madness.”

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