Will You MAGA Babies Get Vaccinated Already?
Florida is a hot mess of COVID-19. The state leads the nation in recorded cases, and hospitalizations are increasing at the fastest rate since the start of the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida accounts for one in five new infections in the United States, with 67,413 cases just in the past week. That's 314 cases per 100,000 residents. The weekly total has quadrupled since July 1.
Epidemiologists attribute this dumpster fire to various factors. The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading, and Floridians, who are spending more time indoors as the temperature rises, have mostly abandoned mask-wearing and social distancing. Meanwhile, just 48 percent of the state is fully vaccinated.
"All of those things together are a recipe for the data that we're seeing," said Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida. "It's a cause for concern...the speed with which the indicators are going up."
Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is obviously doing a heckuva job.
2/ COVID19 cases spiking in Florida, Gov. DeSantis said he's frustrated with local efforts to push mask mandates.… https://t.co/hm3hG2va89— Greg Angel (@Greg Angel) 1626891719.0
Although DeSantis won't mandate vaccinations and has actively enabled vaccine resisters, he did make a mildly pro-vaccine push last week, stating that “these vaccines are saving lives" — something everyone who doesn't watch Tucker Carlson already understood.
But he's still a stickler about unvaccinated people's supposed' “freedom" to run around maskless. He explained:
DESANTIS: I get a little frustrated when I see some of these jurisdictions saying, “Even if you're healthy and vaccinated, you must wear a mask because we're seeing increased cases." Understand what that message is saying to people who aren't vaccinated. It's telling them that the vaccines don't work!
It's probably hard for a Republican like DeSantis to appreciate, but vaccines are one of those situations where the conservative mentality of “Fuck you, I gots mine" is even less constructive than usual. Vaccines are most effective when a population has reached herd immunity. It's a collective effort, and selfish assholes who refuse to get vaccinated because of what some fool told them on Facebook are the reason people are wearing masks at Trader Joe's again. No one's happy about it, but we're trying to keep others (especially children under the age of 12) safe.
DeSantis is trying to skirt responsibility for his own piss-poor leadership and suggest that any renewed public health measures in response to rising COVID-19 rates are why vaccine resisters refuse to do their part. DeSantis proudly signed legislation prohibiting so-called “vaccine passports," which sent the clear message that it was OK to remain unvaccinated. This is on him.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said Thursday that Florida, Texas, and Missouri — all Republican-controlled states — account for 40 percent of all coronavirus cases nationwide. (The three states are less than 20 percent of the population.) The cases are primarily among the unvaccinated.
Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott insists he won't institute another mask mandate, because he believes there's enough immunity already, and it would be unfair to force people who are vaccinated to wear masks again. The tyranny of shirts and shoes will apparently continue.
Abbott has no idea what he's talking about: Only 43 percent of Texans are fully vaccinated. He's too afraid of his willfully ignorant base to say they'll need to wear masks every day for the foreseeable future until they put aside half an hour to get vaccinated.
In Alabama, new infections from the Delta variant have risen 300 percent in the past two weeks. However, conservative residents refuse to get vaccinated for the complex medical reason that they don't like democracy when their side doesn't win.
Many people here and elsewhere in the Southeast are turning down Covid-19 vaccines because they are angry that President Donald Trump lost the election and sick of Democrats in Washington thinking they know what's best. State and local public health officials have struggled to combat that deep-rooted obstinance. But they don't want more on-the-ground help from the White House, fearful it would prolong the current surge — even as the Biden administration has begun approaching southern states with offers to send federal "surge teams" on door-knocking campaigns.
Donald Trump's supporters are inflicting their twisted death cult ideology on the rest of us. Meanwhile, Canada's vaccination rate continues to surpass the US.
It's hard to feel exceptional in America right now.
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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."