Consider Yourself Blessed-- You Weren't Born In Arkansas Or Missouri
A couple of weeks ago, writing from her native Arkansas for The Atlantic, Monica Potts reported that Arkansas had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States, and one of the worst case rates for COVID-19. Today Arkansas is still a mess, with just 36.5% of adults fully vaccinated. All but one of the counties with the most cases per capita are counties that voted heavily-- over 70%-- for Trump. And all of those counties are less vaccinated than the state as a whole:
Lincoln County- 24,505 cases per million; 23% vaccinated (Trump- 70.4%)
Jackson County- 19,663 cases per million; 26% vaccinated (Trump- 70.6%)
Lee County- 18,189 cases per million; 24% vaccinated (Trump- 45.1%)
Hot Spring County- 17,748 cases per million; 29% vaccinated (Trump- 73.3%)
Sevier County- 17,036 cases per million; 28% vaccinated (Trump- 74.7%)
Yell County- 16,817 cases per million; 31% vaccinated (Trump- 77.5%)
In the last 2 weeks cases have risen by 70%, hospitalizations are up 55% and deaths are up 111%. The COVID States Project found that 61% of Americans want to see government mandating vaccines for all children returning to school, the least educated people favoring mandates the least and the most educated people favoring mandates the most. The demographic group opposing those mandates in the greatest numbers are-- I'm sure you guessed-- self-identified Republicans. Among states, there are only 5 where less than half the population favors mandates for schools:
South Dakota- 45.3%
North Dakota- 46.3%
"Our neighboring states-- especially Missouri-- are seeing similar trends," continued Potts. "Case counts have been increasing at the highest rates since February, and we have the most new cases per capita in the nation. On Monday, we saw the highest single-day increase in hospitalizations, 79 new patients, of the entire pandemic. Test-positivity rates are also high, suggesting that infections are undercounted. In my county, Van Buren County; in the more rural Searcy County to the north; and in the more densely populated Faulkner County to the south, the daily case totals are, respectively, 119 percent, 142 percent, and 191 percent higher than their averages over the previous two weeks. Because new cases show no sign of slowing down, we likely have more illness ahead. My local Facebook feed has again become a steady stream of families asking for prayers and making announcements for memorial services."
Many white evangelicals had already begun to shun vaccines altogether, and part of their rationale is this sense of predestination. The message of these anti-vaxxers builds on a basic idea: God built your body, and the immunity that nature gave you is better than any medicine.
...For the nurse at the county health department and other health-care professionals, this strain of resistance began with President Donald Trump and has been the hardest to fight. “I think that this would be a totally different story had it been addressed appropriately in 2020, at the very beginning,” the nurse told me. When Trump and other leaders questioned health professionals and epidemiologists, those uncertainties led more people to feel empowered to question them as well. Individual reasons for avoiding vaccination keep shifting-- whatever it takes to stay on that side of the political divide. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to reckon with what it means that so many of our neighbors have been reluctant to act in the public good, and what that augurs for our sense of community, now and whenever this is over.
White evangelicals shunning vaccines altogether seems like a very attractive situation, one that should be encouraged. I know it is very politically incorrect to say it out loud, but if you're reading this blog, you probably know that the fewer white evangelicals left after the pandemic, the better off the country on every single measurable parameter. White evangelicals-- or at least the kind refusing vaccines and encouraging insurrection-- are a plague on our country.
Next door in Missouri, you already know what a mess the pandemic is, even if not as grotesque as Arkansas. Statewide, jut 51% of the adults are vaccinated and in the last 2 weeks, cases are up 33%, hospitalizations are up 34% and deaths are up 27%. And, of course, the least vaccinated counties are all Trumpist hellholes-- a double infection-- COVID-19 and Trumpism:
Douglas County- 16% vaccinated (Trump- 83.2%)
Reynolds Co.- 17% vaccinated (Trump- 82.0%)
Newton Co.- 18% vaccinated (Trump- 76.6%)
Pemiscot Co.- 18% vaccinated (Trump- 71.2%)
McDonald Co.- 19% vaccinated (Trump- 81.1%)
Shannon Co.- 19% vaccinated (Trump- 80.3%)
Howell Co.- 20% vaccinated (Trump- 80.3%)
Ozark Co.- 20% vaccinated (Trump- 82.7%)
Schuyler Co- 20% vaccinated (Trump- 79.2%)
Scotland Co.- 20% vaccinated (Trump- 77.2%)
Two counties gave Trump over 85% of their votes, Bollinger (85.4%) and Mercer (85.8%). Imagine what a bunch of ignorant morons live there. 24% of Bollinger's adults are vaccinated, although the case load in the county has increased by a startling 950% in the last two weeks and in the same period hospitalizations in Bollinger are up 219%! Just a quarter of Mercer County's adults are vaccinated and the last 2 weeks saw the case load up 71% while the county's hospitalizations rose by 129%.
Horrifying, right? ProPublica's Jeremy Kohler reported that Missouri state Rep. Bill Kidd, who represents some Kansas City suburbs, revealed on Facebook that he's been infected by the coronavirus. "And no, we didn’t get the vaccine," he wrote in a post that has since been deleted. "We’re Republicans 😆" Yeah... no doubt.
State Rep. Brian Seitz, a Republican from Taney County, home to the tourist destination of Branson, commented on the post by falsely claiming that the virus had been developed by top government scientist Anthony Fauci and billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates. They “knew what was coming,” Seitz wrote.
“The jury is still out on the ‘vaccine’ (who knows what’s in that),” he wrote.
...Gov. Mike Parson signed into law a related bill blocking local governments from requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination for people seeking to access transportation systems or other public services.
It’s not enough for some. “Now people are pushing back even against the idea of private employers like hospitals and health care providers telling their employees you have to be vaccinated,” said state Rep. Shamed Dogan, a Republican from the St. Louis suburbs. “I think that some of the legitimate concerns of government overreach have turned into this broader resistance to any vaccination, which is something I don’t agree with.”
...Seitz falsely claimed that COVID vaccines have not been tested and are unsafe. He backed down on his comment about Fauci on Kidd’s Facebook post, acknowledging that the virology expert did not create the coronavirus but asserting that he had been engaged for years in experiments to make viruses more dangerous or transmissible. Fauci has insisted the U.S. government did not participate in experiments that could have caused the pandemic.
Seitz said he had nothing against people who take the vaccine or wear masks. It’s their choice, he said. He said it wasn’t his job to keep people safe, but to keep people free.
“I haven't had the flu even since 1994,” he said. “Why would I take a vaccine? ... My life was normal for the past year, very few instances of wearing a mask, and so forth, and I’m just fine.”
...Kidd, the Republican from the Kansas City area, posted almost two weeks after his initial Facebook post that he was seeking prayers because he was “having a difficult time with COVID” and “really sick.” Kidd posted again on Thursday that he was “doing better” after the virus “kicked my butt.” He did not respond to a message from a reporter.
Republican in Congress and in state legislatures are spreading nonsense about vaccines magnetizing people and about how they contain microchips. I don't wish them well-- especially not when you see they are the very same people who want to dismantle American democracy and reinstitute a Jim Crow era in its place. Oh... and fascism.