Inconceivable-- But True: Southern Governors & Legislatures Are Killing Their Own Supporters
Margaret Renki, who covers the South for the NY Times, wrote this morning that "here in the Delta Rising region of the United States, I regret to report that things are going badly. Very, very badly. Our intensive care units are full. Our children are getting sick in record numbers. Nevertheless, a small subset of unmasked, unvaccinated humanity has taken to yelling during school board meetings, and the most extreme protesters have issued threats against nurses and physicians who dared to speak publicly on behalf of such reasonable pandemic mitigation measures as masks and vaccines."
Things have gotten this terrible for one reason: Our elected leaders keep making an already bad situation much worse. Consider Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee. When a handful of school districts here began to issue mask mandates to protect children too young to be vaccinated-- as advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-- he issued an executive order allowing disgruntled parents to opt out, effectively rendering all mask mandates unenforceable.
This is a new low even for Mr. Lee, whose failures during this pandemic are too manifold to be enumerated in this small space.
Children, like adults, wear masks in part for their own protection and in part to protect others. Mask mandates protect children only when masking is universal. This is not a hard concept to understand.
We cannot blame ignorance for Mr. Lee’s executive order. It is nothing short of perfidy to place a higher priority on humoring the kind of people who threaten doctors and nurses than on protecting the health and safety of schoolchildren and their families. Some 1,200 children every day are getting sick with Covid in this state, and Mr. Lee’s response is to tie the hands of the people who are actually trying to help.
It’s worth pointing out that this is a partisan position, not a regional one. In the three Southern states headed up by Democratic governors-- Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia-- school mask mandates are firmly in place. But as a Republican, Mr. Lee is not remotely alone. In fact, in banning school mask mandates he was essentially copying Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, who issued a similar executive order more than two weeks before Mr. Lee. The ban issued by Texas’ governor, Greg Abbott, came a day before Mr. DeSantis’.
...Tennessee’s two largest school districts-- Metro Nashville Public Schools and Shelby County Schools-- continue to enforce their mask mandates in defiance of the governor’s executive order, and Nashville’s district attorney, Glenn Funk, has said that he “will not prosecute school officials or teachers for keeping children safe.” Some Tennessee pastors are encouraging other districts to defy the ban, too: “I’m well aware of what we are asking,” the Rev. Lillian Lammers told The Tennessean’s Brett Kelman. “There were many times in the Bible where Jesus broke the law in order to feed people or care for people, as a way of teaching others that sometimes the law can get in the way of doing what is right.”
That message of civil disobedience seems to be resonating across the South.
Last week, the school board of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida’s largest school district, and school districts in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa and Palm Beach County, voted to approve mask mandates in open defiance of Mr. DeSantis’s ban. And they did so despite the threat of penalties leveled by the Florida state board of education against board members and superintendents in Broward and Alachua Counties, which had already established mask mandates.
In South Carolina, which passed a ban on mask mandates as part of its budget, a bipartisan group of state legislators has called for a special session to reconsider the ban. The city of Columbia has passed a mask mandate in elementary and middle schools, and fire marshals are in place to enforce it.
School districts across Texas-- in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio-- are equally defiant. Arkansas’s governor, Asa Hutchinson, now regrets the ban he signed into law in the spring, and he is defying his base in attempting to overturn or modify the ban.
Look at a map of the worst Covid hot spots around the country, and you will see that the region getting most pummeled by this virus is, not coincidentally, the same one that is governed primarily by Republicans. Those supermajorities are why there has always been plenty of perfidy to go around down here, but this time the Republicans in charge have gone too far. People have finally stopped waiting for their leaders to lead and are taking matters into their own hands.
Our lives and our children’s lives are on the line.
Across America, the correlation between counties with the fewest vaccinated people and the most Trump voters is astounding-- and not just in the South. Let's take Wyoming, the Trumpiest state in the Union. And for some reason, the folks in Crook County felt he was their guy more than any other county. 88.6% of Crook voters picked Trump in 2020, his highest percentage. Crook is also the county with the second lowest vaccination rate: 22%, right behind Campbell County (20%), where 86.8% of voters picked Trump, the 3rd worst on the state. In between was Weston County, where 87.2% voted for Trump and just 27% have been fully vaccinated.
Pick a state-- any state-- and it's pretty much the same everywhere: counties that voted for Trump are counties with themes people who refuse to be vaccinated. Here in California, the Trumpiest county was primitive little Lassen county in the northeast corner of the state-- 74.5% for Trump... and 28% fully vaccinated, the only county under 30%.
How about Oklahoma, "where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
and the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain?" Trump won the state with 65.4% and, statewide, the vaccination rate is 42%. But look at the 4 counties where over 90% of the local morons voted for Trump-- predictably the lowest vaccination rates:
Cimarron Co.- 92.0% Trump (22% vaccinated)
Beaver Co.- 90.4% Trump (23% vaccinated)
Ellis Co.- 90.1% Trump (28% vaccinated)
Dewey Co.- 90.0% Trump (21% vaccinated)
Almost inevitably, the insurance rates these unvaccinated imbeciles will have to pay are going to go up-- either that or all of our rates will go up. The COVID hospitalizations-- through the roof in backward states like Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas-- are costing the country billions of dollars, just because about 20-30% of suicidal idiots claim it's their right to infect everyone else if they want to. Good news: almost every day, another right-wing hate talk radio host preaching against vaccines and masks or an ignorant GOP legislator is infected and another one dies. The more of them who rush off to see their Maker, the better, but in the interim they're causing innocent-- if pretty dumb-- Americans to also get sick and, in some cases, die. Why should the rest of us be subsidizing their morbid stupidity?
The report from Kaiser notes that "These COVID-19 hospitalizations are devastating for patients, their families, and health care providers. The hospitalizations are also costing taxpayer-funded public insurance programs and the workers and businesses paying health insurance premiums. While real-time data on the cost of all COVID-19 hospitalizations are not publicly available, various sources point to an average hospitalization cost of around $20,000. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that Medicare fee-for-service COVID-19 hospitalizations average $24,033. Another study of Medicare fee-for-service enrollees found an average COVID-19 hospitalization cost $21,752. A FAIR Health analysis of private claims data including employer and private Medicare Advantage plans found that COVID-19 hospitalization costs ranged from $17,094 for people over age 70 to $24,012 for people in their 50s. Similarly, our analysis of pre-pandemic private insurance claims for pneumonia hospitalizations with complications averaged $20,292 (though the cost for hospitalizations requiring a ventilator are much higher). Our analysis of CDC data indicates there were 37,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in June and another 76,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in July, among unvaccinated adults in the U.S... If each of these preventable hospitalizations cost roughly $20,000, on average, that would mean these largely avoidable hospitalizations have already cost the U.S. health system billions of dollars since the beginning of June."
As Axios explained this morning, "Someone has to pay for these hospitalizations. Although COVID patients themselves may be on the hook for at least part of the bill, a large chunk of the tab will fall on either private or public insurers. And health insurance isn't free-- we all pay for it either through our premiums or our taxpayer dollars... We're all paying for the unvaccinated, and the big question is how large we'll let the bill become." Now that the FDA has officially granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, it's time to start rolling out some kick ass vaccine mandates, as the Pentagon said it will do this morning and as Arizona's Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich acknowledged is perfectly legal.