GOP: COVID Is Like a River in Egypt
But just in case COVID exists, say Republicans without evidence, its spread is being caused by recent immigrants.
I can’t help but conclude that the Republican Party does not want this pandemic to end.
Opposition to mask-wearing, social distancing and especially rolling up your sleeve has become a test of party loyalty. For a number of cynical reasons, the GOP maintains its denial of basic scientific facts and shared truths.
COVID-denial is especially prevalent in two Southern states that are leading the nation in new cases of COVID caused by the delta variant. Florida has been reporting over 20,000 new cases per day with 262 COVID deaths. Yet, at a recent meeting of conservative activists, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared, “No to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no to mandates.” DeSantis has also prohibited vaccine passports.
In Texas, with 23,000 new cases, 14,000 hospitalizations and 245 deaths, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that would deny a state contract or license to any business that required proof of vaccination. Abbott also asked the state legislature to write a law banning vaccine mandates altogether.
How did we get to this?
Of course, COVID denial began with the Trump administration in the pandemic’s infancy. This two-minute video, titled “Trump’s 100 Days of Deadly Coronavirus Denial,” is published by Mother Jones via YouTube:
For other examples of Republican heated COVID denial, just watch a segment of Fox News. It sounds deeply cynical, but the magic formula for GOP ascendancy sounds like this: The more they minimize the threat of COVID to a person’s health or life (and push worthless remedies like hydroxychloroquine), the longer the pandemic will last. And the GOP is the chief beneficiary of a prolonged pandemic.
The benefits are already accruing: According to a Reuters survey in mid-August, Presiden Biden has suffered a sharp decline in his approval rating, including a 21% drop among all Americans for his handling of the pandemic.
“Live Free Or Die”
As the above chart by scientist Dana Nuccitelli, author of Climatology Versus Pseudoscience, gleefully points out, conservative Republicans are using the same climate change denial playbook on COVID.
Republican climate change denial was primarily about pleasing its friends in the fossil fuels industry. But sowing doubt about climate change came with a cost: an antagonistic relationship with hard science. The GOP became the anti-science party. When COVID came along, these instincts, along with Trump’s lies and a mistrust of government or anything serving the public good, created a perfect launching pad for COVID denial.
We’ll let a world-renown scientist and author, Bil McKibben, lecture our Republican brethren: “You can’t negotiate with physics and chemistry, you can’t compromise with them or spin them away…coronavirus is teaching us precisely this fact about biology as well. Reality is real and sometimes it bites pretty hard.”
It’s the immigrants, I swear
Two completely separate circumstances have become a match made in heaven for political spin doctors on the right. Number one, the American South has borne the brunt of new COVID infections. Number two, a steady stream of migrants continues to cross our southern border.
Most public health officials say there’s very little evidence to back up claims that the two are connected. The places in the US with the highest positivity rates are not near the border or in parts of the US where migrants are headed, explains Dr. Michele Heisler, medical director of the Physicians for Human Rights.
The Usual Suspects
But don’t tell that to the governors of Texas and Florida. They’re not having it.
They’re “allowing free pass into the United States of people with a high probability of COVID, and then spreading COVID into our communities,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Fox News.
Abbott’s evidence-free comment discounts certain community-spirited efforts by local governments to diminish COVID’s spread. According to NPR, in the Rio Grande Valley, the city of McAllen “set up an emergency encampment…to care for migrants who test positive for the coronavirus after they’re released from the custody of federal immigration authorities.” That’s genuine American compassion.
Not the Sharpest Tools in the Drawer
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference, “I can tell you, whatever variants around the world, they’re coming across the southern border.” DeSantis says this with the authority of a man running a state that shares a long border with Mexico…NOT!
Some advice, then: Instead of spreading misinformation on topics you know nothing about, perhaps the gentlemen from Texas and Florida could start taking care of their own damn states.
Nobody’s safe until everybody’s safe.