Mask Up, Dummies. Covid's Still Here.
COVID-19 is still very much with us. The current surge in China could result in as many as a million deaths. Cases are steadily rising in the United States, and the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are also active threats. It's what public health experts call a "tripledemic"! (They're medical professionals not marketing whizzes.)
Covid-19 hospitalizations have been on the rise since early November, and older people are bearing the brunt of these serious illnesses. Hospitalization rates are four times higher for seniors than for any other age group.
In the first week of December, the US had the most Covid-19-related deaths in months. Even with vaccines and treatments widely available, the CDC reported nearly 3,000 deaths for that week.
Oh, and there aren't any monoclonal antibody drugs that can treat the latest COVID-19 variants.
This isn't intended as a Grinchy pre-Christmas downer. We don't have to lock ourselves inside our homes and open grandma's presents over Zoom again. However, we could — if it's not too much trouble — take some basic precautions that could minimize transmission as we enter the colder, winter months. Getting the vaccine booster is obvious. Unfortunately, a substantial majority of Americans haven't received their bivalent booster shot, and just 28 percent of American adults have received their flu shot.
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Republicans, especially Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have actively waged war against modern medicine, while simultaneously condemning the 2020 lockdowns that the vaccines helped end. It's sociopathic contrarianism masked as public policy.
These pro-death Republicans haven't just opposed mask mandates as government overreach or simply unenforceable in practice. They insist masks are literal child abuse and even go so far as to mock anyone who wears them. During a recent appearance at one of those endless Turning Point USA events, Rep. Matt Gaetz denounced Republican Governors Larry Hogan, Mike DeWine, and Doug Ducey from Maryland, Ohio, and Arizona who (briefly) implemented sensible public health measures during a pandemic. They denied their constituents the freedom to die needlessly!
\u201cGaetz: In Florida, if you\u2019re still wearing a mask, we just assume you\u2019re hideous\u201d— Acyn (@Acyn) 1671493004
"How foolish were they?" Gaetz asked. "How foolish were we to tolerate it?" Always eager to find new, undiscovered levels of rock bottom, Gaetz added smugly, "In Florida, if you're still wearing a mask, we just assume you're hideous."
The unmasked and thus objectively beautiful crowd laughed in agreement with this idiot.
When President Ronald Reagan ignored the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s, his cruel, bigoted negligence likely killed countless people, but he also never publicly said, "Condoms are for losers with tiny pee-pees." Republicans have only gotten collectively worse about public health.
Reagan-era Republicans also might've acted sooner out of base self-preservation if it was immediately obvious that AIDS wasn't just infecting and killing "those people." However, Republicans' own opportunistic infection Donald Trump was hospitalized from COVID-19 in 2020, before the vaccine was readily available. When President Joe Biden caught COVID earlier this year, his condition was far less serious because he was fully vaccinated. You'd think they'd see the connection.
According to a June study published in Health Affairs, there are higher proportions of COVID deaths in Republican-majority counties nationwide than in Democratic-majority counties (through October 2021 at least). While Republicans and Fox News rave about rising crime in "Democrat-run cities," their anti-science rhetoric is literally killing people. And there's no end in sight because there's no end to their spite.
[Northwestern / CNN]
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."