No Longer a Premonition

One of my very first go-into-a-store purchases once I was fully vaccinated was Michael Lewis’s The Premonition, a very Michael Lewis-y look at public health’s preparation for a big pandemic.

The book was supposed to be my coming-out-of-Covid reading. It was supposed to be something I could read and find amusement in, the same way I reflect on the time I almost died on the interstate heading to buy a stockpot for my mother for Christmas after an ice storm.

But, because I read books in fits and spurts, it’s turned into my rise-of-Delta reading. And instead of amusement, it fills me with apprehension.

There are plenty of moments, in the Bush- and Obama-era pandemic planning, when data led to a plan including steps with expected big prevention benefits at relatively little cost. Many of these steps, such as closing schools, were expected to be unpopular. They would require leaders to make decisions quickly in the face of public pressure to absolutely not do the thing that would save lives.

And here we are, facing a wave on an even more contagious variant of Covid, failing to act decisively. Failing to increase vaccinations. About to send millions of unvaccinated children back into school buildings.

Hold on tight. It’s going to get bumpy.