Task force better late than never

Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has been fraught with errors and miscalculations, not only by Washington, but in numerous state capitals as well.

The approximately half-million U.S. deaths from the virus — not to mention the millions of people who recovered ­– deliver a troublesome verdict of the overall efforts.

Now the nation is watching with dual-pronged anxiety as the vaccination efforts continue ramping up.

First, there is uneasiness about whether the approved vaccines will provide enough protection against virus variants.

Second, there is uneasiness about whether as-yet-not-identified dangers lie within the approved vaccines.

The latter is being fueled by scattered reports of deaths or serious medical complications in a small number of people in the days shortly after being vaccinated.

While small, the numbers are alarming among people trying to decide whether they should roll up their sleeve or “roll the dice” by refusing the vaccine.

Which brings us back to the issue of errors and miscalculations that were rampant during 2020 and that continue in 2021.

During a midweek session with media from across the state — featured atop the Mirror’s Wednesday Page A1 — residents were informed about Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to create a vaccine task force to “share vaccine information and communicate issues and solutions on behalf of and to the broader General Assembly.”

Too bad Wolf did not many months ago envision the value of having such a panel.

State Rep. Lou Schmitt, R-Altoona, was right that Wolf should have implemented such an action much earlier, when the administration and Legislature could have “come up jointly with strategies.”

Wolf continues to be under fire for some of his pandemic-related actions under the umbrella of disaster declarations. He isn’t the only state chief executive facing such backlash.

An Associated Press article in the Jan. 29 Mirror reported that, “irritated by the sweeping use of executive orders during the COVID-19 crisis, state lawmakers around the U.S. are moving to curb the authority of governors and top health officials to impose emergency restrictions such as mask rules and business shutdowns.”

In Pennsylvania, the issue seems headed to the voters.

According to a Jan. 28 article, what was described as a divided state House of Representatives endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the governor’s emergency powers, with the aim of putting lawmakers more in control.

However, it is possible that this could be a detriment in a quickly developing situation, because state lawmakers often are guilty of prolonged indecision or playing too much politics.

For the current crisis, though, the Wolf task force plan seems desirable, going forward, since it would involve one member of each party’s caucus in the state Senate and House, as well as Health Department and Emergency Management Agency representatives.

Judging from what could have been done better over past months, it’s an option certainly worth trying.


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