Chesney Guest Column: Mixed Messages Frustrate Pandemic Response

Local health departments, medical groups, news media and many constituents have contacted my office recently frustrated by deficiencies in the rollout of the Coronavirus vaccination effort in Illinois. Limited supplies of vaccine paired with increased government-sponsored mass advertising encouraging vaccination have led to crashed sign-up websites, insufficient supply to meet demand, and sometimes long travel times to get to nearest vaccination sites. Sites have been set up only to be canceled at the last minute due to cuts in vaccine allotments by state government.

Unfortunately, the latest societal symptom of response mismanagement is the mixed messages from state-sponsored media.

Operation Warp Speed allowed development of COVID vaccines at a rate we have never seen in world history. This only occurred because the federal government, under the Trump administration, removed barriers and red tape to allow private industry to do what they do best— develop and bring a product to market to meet demand. They succeeded. Effective vaccine options were created in a matter of months that bureaucracies would previously slow down to a rate of years. In other words, once government got out of the way, the free market delivered results.

Vaccination distribution by state government has been botched, despite best efforts by local public health departments to compensate for the state’s failures. Under Governor JB Pritzker, seemingly insufficient management skills have been applied to develop a viable plan to mass distribute vaccines in a way that syncs with public messaging pushing vulnerable populations to get vaccinated. Eligible populations are growing frustrated by their attempts to get vaccinated only to find red tape, mismanagement and excessive state government bureaucracy. This is a temporary problem that will be fixed when public frustration demands it be fixed by Pritzker. Soon, state leaders will turn again to private industry to manage what bureaucracies cannot. Once private industry pharmacies and more medical groups get in the mix as vaccine supply increases, we will again see societal progress on public health aims of herd immunity.

In both the development and distribution of vaccines, the free market makes right on what government mismanages.

Here’s where the mixed messaging really comes in: despite job creators bailing out bureaucrats and politicians time and again in the course of this pandemic, they are seemingly punished by the same leaders depending on them to bail out their incompetence. Business shutdowns based on politics, and not science— demanded by Pritzker’s Executive Orders— punished the economic recovery we need job creators to provide. Even in Governor JB Pritzker’s budget address this week, a Hollywood-style political production, Governor Pritzker took aim at balancing the budget on the back of the very job creators who have bailed him out at every step of the way. He called the Republicans who defended these economic recovery heroes “carnival barkers”. Shameful.

Our leaders, like Governor JB Pritzker, need to understand that our economic recovery will only begin when our state and federal governments quit trying to manage the free market and instead allow job creators to do what they do best— bring an economic recovery to market to meet demand.

If pointing out this hypocrisy in Governor JB Pritzker’s mixed messages is considered “carnival barking” then I have no problem being the loudest barker at this carnival. Our economic recovery depends on getting people safely back to work and allowing private industry to drive our economic recovery and provide us the rediscovered freedom we once enjoyed. Look to the helpers. Don’t punish the helpers, Governor Pritzker.