In regard to the pandemic, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) made a conscious decision to be the most anti-science governor in America. He planned to ride his aggressive stance against health guidelines to reelection and then into the White House. But ever since he prematurely lifted all restrictions and forbade local governments from implementing their own restrictions, Florida has had the most new cases and, usually, the most COVID-deaths of any state in the union. Yesterday, once again, Florida led the way with 13,256 new cases and 148 new deaths. Over the last 2 weeks, Florida cases have risen by an astronomical 208%. There are more COVID patients hospitalized in Florida than any other state: 5,171-- an increase of 107% in two weeks!! And thanks to DeSantis downplaying the severity of the pandemic, only 48% of Floridians are fully vaccinated. Red Florida counties are among the most infected in the whole country and are spiking out of control. These are the 5 worst-hit Florida counties with the 2 week change in cases + their 2020 Trump vote:
Nassau (3rd worst county in America) +208%-- 72.4% for Trump
Baker (5th worst county in America +135%-- 84.7% for Trump
Duval +200%-- 47.4% for Trump
Calhoun +395%-- 80.8% for Trump
Bradford +157%-- 75.8% for Trump
Just 20% of the folks in Baker County, 24% of Calhoun County and 28% of Bradford County are fully vaccinated. Among normal people, patience has worn thin for these Trumpist morons-- largely very primitive white evangelicals eager for their miserable, pointless lives to ende. As Fareed Zakaria noted in an OpEd last night, "There is one striking thing that distinguishes this pandemic from all previous ones in history-- the speed with which humankind came up with a vaccine. It is unprecedented and still breathtaking that, within months of the arrival of a novel coronavirus, scientists were able to develop and test several vaccines that proved to be highly effective at preventing serious illness. But what science has given, politics seems to be taking away. Despite having ample supplies of the vaccine, the United States is stuck with roughly 60 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated, ensuring that the pandemic will linger, perhaps forever. Given the tools to end this tragedy, we are choosing to live with it."
"We?" Are these Trumpists part of your "we?" Also writing for the Washington Post, reporters Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager wrote about the growing frustration and anger among normal Americans towards the right-wingers refusing to get vaccinated. They are bio-terrorists "endangering themselves and their communities and fueling the virus’s spread."
New polling from the NORC Center for the Associated Press led researchers to conclude that "Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do... Among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35% say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not... Just 3% say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will. What’s more, 64% of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants-- including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83% of new cases in the U.S.-- despite evidence that they offer strong protection. In contrast, 86% of those who have already been vaccinated have at least some confidence that the vaccines will work... [O]verall, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say they have not been vaccinated and definitely or probably won’t be, 43% to 10%."
I hope you watched that video we posted yesterday of Alabama's Republican governor flipping out and looking like she'd like to start shooting the vaccine refusers in her state. Only 34% of Alabamans are fully vaccinated, tied with Mississippi for the worst rate in the country. As Diamond and Pager reported, she said something that indicates she's never running for office again in Alabama: "time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks." Matt Gorman, a Republican strategist, told the 2 reporters that patience is wearing thin among both government and business leaders.
Meanwhile, exhausted health providers say they are bracing for case spikes that are largely preventable, driven by the hyper-transmissible delta variant. “We are frustrated, tired and worried for this next surge-- and saddened by the state we find ourselves in,” said Jason Yaun, a Memphis-based pediatrician, who said his colleagues are grappling with an “accumulation of fatigue” since the outbreak exploded in March 2020.
Biden administration officials increasingly frame the current outbreak as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” seeking to persuade and perhaps even frighten some holdouts to get the shots.
But after months of careful cajoling, a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are venting about the sheer number of Americans who remain unvaccinated, particularly as hospitals are becoming overwhelmed in states with low vaccination rates.
President Biden railed at social media companies last week for their role in spreading misinformation about the vaccines’ benefits. “They’re killing people,” he said. “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.”
Biden later backed off his criticism of Facebook, while still calling on the company to do more to combat misinformation.
“Vaccinated America has had enough,” former Republican speechwriter David Frum declared in The Atlantic on Friday.
Despite the growing anger, including from some GOP officials, a number of prominent Republicans and conservative media voices continue to shower vaccines with skepticism, and social media disinformation continues largely unabated. “The Biden administration wants to knock down your door KGB-style to force people to get vaccinated!” Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) tweeted this month, distorting a new campaign to share information about the shots.
This might have been an appropriate moment for Diamond and Pager to inform their readers that Smith is a very disturbed closet queen whose entire life and persona is built around a lie and that he lies every moment of every day. But they chose not to, while noting that "The acrimony is only likely to intensify in coming months as vaccine mandates take effect at hundreds of colleges and universities, following a federal judge’s refusal this week to block Indiana University’s mandate. The Food and Drug Administration also is expected to fully approve the vaccines by fall, which is expected to embolden more employers to require the shots. Public health experts say they’re grappling with an irony: Americans who are already vaccinated tend to treat the coronavirus threat more seriously than many of the unvaccinated-- even though the delta variant is poised to tear through populations that lack protection."
The challenge is particularly acute in GOP-led states, where the virus is now surging, but protection against it remains disproportionately low. Alabama, for instance, has seen a 92 percent increase in coronavirus infections and a 72 percent rise in hospitalizations over the past week. But just one-third of Alabamians are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest levels in the nation.
“It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,” Ivey told a reporter, lamenting that she didn’t know what else to do to encourage vaccinations. “These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.”
...Meanwhile, the NFL amped up its efforts this week to persuade holdout players to get vaccinated. Under the new rules, a team could be forced to forfeit a game if there is a coronavirus outbreak linked to unvaccinated players. The move has both competitive and financial implications: Players won’t get paychecks for forfeited games, the NFL said.
About 80 percent of all NFL players had at least one shot before the rules took effect, said league spokesperson Brian McCarthy, who credited seminars about the vaccines’ benefits, on-site vaccinations and other tactics.
“We are pleased but not satisfied,” McCarthy said, defending the NFL’s push to encourage more shots.
Some players, like Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, have complained the new rules penalize them for being unwilling to get the vaccine. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, the league’s most vocal critic of the vaccine, also publicly questioned a teammate’s support for the rules.
“No one’s forcing you to do anything,” said Torrey Smith, a retired NFL player who’s spoken about the benefits of the vaccines. “You still don’t have to do it. But understand your freedom of choice not to get vaccinated: It’s putting other people at more of a risk and the organization at more of a risk.”
“Because of the NFL’s protocols, it puts you in a situation where you can definitely hurt your team long term, and you’re going to pay for it-- literally,” Smith added.
Messaging experts counseled for months that blaming unvaccinated Americans would only backfire. Still, some said they understand the newly sharp tone of the conversation.
“I assumed it would be easier to convince people to get vaccinated as more and more people did,” said Frank Luntz, the longtime GOP pollster who has worked with the Biden administration and congressional Republicans to encourage people to get vaccinated. “It’s actually becoming more difficult. People are dug in.”
Luntz said he understands the growing frustrations about vaccine holdouts, particularly after a recent focus group with the de Beaumont Foundation. Participants were recruited after they claimed they were considering getting the shots-- but then deflected all the pro-vaccine arguments, Luntz said.
“I got very agitated during my last focus group, and I don’t get agitated,” Luntz said. “I’m a living example of this frustration.”
...Public health experts have defended the growing push for vaccination-related requirements, saying that the personal choice to get vaccinated should not be prioritized over community health.
“We do have personal freedom in the United States,” said Brian Castrucci, head of the de Beaumont Foundation. “But those freedoms and the choices people make are not without consequences for them or others they may impact.”
The growing hostility toward the vaccine is driving wedges between Americans across government, schools and sports as people look to move beyond the pandemic.
“Our inherent belligerence about everything is creeping into this discussion,” said Barry Bennett, who managed Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign and then advised Donald Trump. “There have been all kinds of irrational behavior through this pandemic, and it’s getting worse not better.”
All during the week, you have heard Republican voices beginning to speak up about getting vaccinated, but it is largely too late now. Fox-- which insists its own employees be vaccinated-- has been stoking the baseless conspiracy theories on the paranoid right along with GOP extremists like Madison Cawthorn (NC), Marjorie Traitor Greene (GA) and Lauren Boebert (GA). Now that Fox is backing away from that position a bit, their viewers are more confused than convinced. The extremists are labelling pro-vaccine Republicans as RINOs. Michael Steele, former RNC chair and a possible Maryland gubernatorial candidate, said that the "sudden pleading for people to get vaccinated" in his party "stems from the fact that they’re looking at their constituents die. Their voice print, what they’ve been saying up until this point, is all over that." Republican elected officials don't want to be blamed for what's coming down the pike.