PERRY: Vaccinate or vaccinot? Deciding who is least worthy is just political jail bait

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An inmate heads to a holding cell after being processed in the booking area of the Arapahoe County Detention Center. County officials are hoping that the voters will support a measure allowing for the construction of a new facility.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

I don’t think anyone is surprised that the good news about a miraculously fast coronavirus vaccine quickly devolved into a loathsome argument about killing criminals in jails and prisons.

Most of us have been busy worrying about a COVID-19 surge so expansive that it overwhelms hospitals. Our days have been filled with dread over a president working desperately to undermine the nation’s election.

But now that the vaccine is actually here and getting pumped into the deltoids of health workers, the conversation has turned to who among us should get the first, precious doses of the holy grail of science?

Even a few weeks ago, noisy political types, like local District Attorney George Brauchler, were conjuring melodrama by saying convicts tucked away in jails and prisons, where COVID-19 is rampant, should be at the bottom of the list of recipients.

He referred to convicts serving life sentences for murdering the son of Aurora state Sen. Rhonda Fields. Brauchler said a preliminary state vaccination strategy would have vaccinated the prisoners before Fields, now 66, would have had access to a shot in the arm.

“The people who murdered her son would get it before she would,” Brauchler said, according to an Associated Press story in The Sentinel.

Few things are as titillating as the age-old lifeboat exercise, and few people are more willing to exploit it than Brauchler.

It’s a fun game to play for the Trump-minded among us. There are, however, no winners.

Should a swarthy, foul, bad-breathed, convicted bank robber with toe fungus have access to a potentially life-saving vaccine or your sweet auntie who’s been locked away in a nursing home, waving at her distraught family through a window, streaked with tears and fingerprints?

The preposterous question is most repugnant because it demands you determine who among us is a better human, more deserving of life. As is often the case, this Q&A comes from people professing a belief in teachings of Jesus Christ, who was unequivocal in his philosophy: Hookers can get to heaven as fast as anyone, even your sweet auntie.

The inference is perfectly clear: Criminals deserve to die, or at the very least, have forfeited their right to live. This is like creating statewide medical ethics by playing beer pong.

I heard Gov. Polis loud and clear when it was apparent the vaccine was headed this way and the difficult task of prioritizing arms to stick was a reality. The mission? Make decisions that save the most lives, not the most worthy lives.

Neither Polis, Pfizer nor anyone that matters said, save the most worthy lives and let the others hope for the best.

He changed his tune, later saying that Colorado residents who’ve committed crimes won’t get inoculations before those who didn’t

No. Save the most lives. That’s it. Otherwise, it would be easy to play right-wing radio shock-jock with this pastime and ask, “why stop at precluding prisoners from the vaccine?”

The demand and need for inoculations will far surpass supplies for weeks, probably months, keeping most of us at risk of infection.

Why not set up a checklist for the most worthy among us? Here’s how you get points to get to the front of the line:

Start with 100 points.

• Speeding or dog-at-large convictions? Subtract 1 point

• Ex-con in a nursing home? Subtract 4 points.

• Ex-con, subtract 11 points.

• Bankruptcy? Subtract 5 points

• 4.0 GPA in college? Add 2 points

• No college? Subtract 1 point

• Credit score above 700, add 1 point

• Quit job without 2 weeks notice? Subtract 2 points

• Believe in QAnon or have a Parler account? Subtract 10 points

• BMI over 28? Subtract 8 points

• Texas license plates? Subtract 40 points

You get the idea. Do we draw the line at misdemeanors? What about innocent people who just can’t post bail?

An Associated Press story Friday revealed that “one in every five state and federal prisoners in the nations has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times higher than the general population.”  More than 1,500 prisoners across the nation have died because of COVID-19.

You might feel like one person is more worthy than another for the vaccine, but you sure as hell don’t want the government to determine who those people are, other than what their situation is. Very old, infirm people essentially trapped in group housing are the most likely to be saved from the virus by a vaccine. So are people trapped in prisons and jails.

To hand this over to the Brauchlers of Colorado, we can start talking about whether socialist King Soopers employees are more worthy of life than the ones who have Trump stickers on their car bumpers. We know which ones Trump would pick.

No, set aside the hot-talk about saving murderers so their victims can gasp for breath in an ICU. The reality is, prisons and jails easily spread the virus, killing people on the inside and working its way back to the outside.

If public health officials determine that more Colorado lives will be saved by inoculating inmates of a jail along with the inmates of a nursing home, the right decision makes itself, even if it means flamboyant district attorneys end up in line ahead of the rest of us.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

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