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George Pyle: Death of Colin Powell should remind us why the CEO of Intermountain Healthcare urged us to all get vaccinated

Dr. Marc Harrison risked his life to come to a governor’s press conference in August because the message was so important

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Marc Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox cast doubt on the efficacy of mask-wearing as health leaders made some of their most impassioned pleas yet for state residents to mask up and get vaccinated.

In the spirit of a phrase the former solider probably knew well — The first report from the battlefield is always wrong — the full context of death of Colin Powell is catching up with the initial bulletins.

Washington • Colin Powell, who served Democratic and Republican presidents in war and peace but whose sterling reputation was forever stained when he went before the U.N. and made faulty claims to justify the U.S. war in Iraq, has died of COVID-19 complications. He was 84. ...

... In an announcement on social media, Powell’s family said he had been fully vaccinated.”

Colin Powell has died of COVID-19 complications, family says — Robert Burns | The Associated Press

As more reporting is done, we learn that even though the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was indeed vaccinated for COVID-19, he was also 84 years old and, even more importantly, suffering from multiple myeloma. That’s a disease that wrecks a person’s immune system and makes them much more vulnerable to coronavirus and just about anything else out there.

It’s why nobody should use the fact that Powell was one of those “breakthrough infections” we hear about as an argument that vaccines aren’t effective.

This is exactly what the CEO of Utah’s Intermountain Healthcare was trying to tell us back in August.

With some trepidation, Dr. Marc Harrison took off his N95 face mask in a room of state officials, health experts and reporters.

Harrison — the president and CEO of Utah’s largest hospital system, Intermountain Healthcare — told reporters at Gov. Spencer Cox’s monthly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday about his medical history: He has multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, which is in remission after a bone marrow transplant and an experimental CAR T-cell therapy, leaving him immunocompromised.

“I would normally avoid a group like this,” Harrison told reporters. “I hope that all of you who aren’t wearing masks aren’t carrying the delta variant — because if you are, you could kill me. This is serious stuff.”

Intermountain’s CEO makes a plea to Utahns: Wear a mask — Sean P. Means | The Salt Lake Tribune

This is a reminder that the reason people who actually know about this stuff are urging us to get the COVID-19 vaccination, or to wear a mask, wash our hands, observe a little casual social distancing, is because some of us are more vulnerable to serious illness and death than others.

But if you get the vaccine, you become less of a threat to others, those who can’t (or won’t) get the jab or those who have been vaccinated but, due to cancer, organ transplants, etc. — or, like me, just age — are still at increased risk.

For some reason, that caring about others stuff is still a hard sell in America.

And, while we’re remembering Colin Powell, a reminder that Trump-supporting Republicans such as Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart, in scurrying to praise the ex-Republican, should note that Powell left the Republican Party and supported Joe Biden because he couldn’t stomach Donald Trump any more.

George Pyle, reading The New York Times at The Rose Establishment.

George Pyle, opinion editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, is happily triple vaxxed. So there.

gpyle@sltrib.com

Twitter, @debatestate

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