One of the legitimate concerns and scariest aspects about the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was that we didn't know what we didn't know.
As we repeated over and over again last year — as the risk of the virus was downplayed and then reversed, as potential astronomic death projections were announced and later lowered, as masks were pooh-poohed and then mandated — there was no playbook.
The left and their national media handmaidens, having been unable to take down then-President Donald Trump with a Russia investigation and two political impeachment charges, saw an opening with the virus. Somehow, some way, they would make it all Trump's fault — the virus's arrival, its spread, the uncertainty about how to treat it, its deaths.
In a presidential election year, the ploy worked. The president was narrowly defeated.
Now, a year out from the confusion of a year ago, the public is, well, still confused. And it may be getting worse rather then better.
One of the drumbeats from the left over the last few months has given the public the impression that only backward Republicans in backward states refuse to get the vaccine and that anyone who gets COVID-19 now has been irresponsible, is an anti-vaxxer and must be a redneck Republican from a southern state.
Remember the playbook we railed about? Hello, delta variant.
The first fully vaccinated U.S. senator to get the virus was Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Hearing the news, a Rhode Island Democratic lobbyist tweeted, "It's wrong to hope he dies from Covid, right?" she wrote. "Asking for a friend."
ABC, recalling the success of tying Trump to the virus, headlined its story: "Donald Trump ally, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, tests positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated."
That was more than two weeks ago.
When Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tested positive for the virus earlier this week, despite being vaccinated, two Democratic minister's sons we know took to Facebook to voice their glee.
Then Thursday, two left-leaning U.S. senators, Colorado's John Hickenlooper and Maine's Angus King, announced they were among three senators who'd been vaccinated but were infected.
Chattanooga's left-leaning mayor, Tim Kelly, also announced this week he'd been diagnosed with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
We hope no one is critical of Hickenlooper, King and Kelly, because all that will do is make people more afraid of getting a vaccine. After all, the vaccine hesitant might say, if more and more people are having breakthrough infections — and they are — what's the use of getting the vaccine in the first place?
Let us stop here and repeat what we've said before — that getting a vaccine offers individuals and those they come in contact with the best possibility not to get COVID-19. Not only that, but the larger the population that is vaccinated, the fewer people who will get sick and the more likely the virus will be able to fade from view.
Unfortunately, the Democratic president who replaced the president who was framed for the virus is not making it easier. He couldn't deliver on the number he pledged would be vaccinated by July 4, and now he has rankled the medical profession by telling people they'll have to have a booster vaccine.
People who have been carefully following vaccine news knew that would be coming, but many experts are saying President Joe Biden's recent mention of a third shot is undermining the ability to get first and second jabs in the arms of those who have resisted them.
"I think we've scared people," Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and an adviser to the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, told Modern Healthcare.
"We sent a terrible message," he said. "We just sent a message out there that people who consider themselves fully vaccinated were not fully vaccinated. And that's the wrong message, because you are protected against serious illness."
As to whether boosters would make the virus less transmissable, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical advisor, said he didn't know. And other scientists said they didn't believe a third vaccine would have any side effects, but they couldn't say for sure because the matter was still being studied.
Elsewhere, parents were still trying to figure out what to make of all the times they'd been told children weren't as susceptible to the virus, only to find out the delta variant is proving that wrong.
Remember, there is no playbook.
But what we can say for certain is that lockdowns the likes of which we saw in the spring of 2020 won't happen again. And that puts the outcome of this virus squarely on our backs. To avoid all the confusion still out there, we can get vaccinated, wear masks in large groups and where asked to, and avoid blaming or shaming anyone who becomes infected. In other words, we can be responsible. Gee, what a concept.