Nel's New Day

July 20, 2021

COVID: A Plague of Unvaccinateds

In the U.S., infections over a seven-day average increased 140 percent during the past two weeks, and almost 80,000 new cases were reported last Friday after a daily count had stopped to 10,000. At the same time, hospitalizations and deaths each rose by 30 percent. The original COVID-19 triggering the pandemic in 2019 had an RO rating (r-naught) of about 2.4, meaning an infected person would infect two or three others. The new Delta variant, now 83 percent of new cases, has an RO up to 8. 

The largest percentages of infections in small towns like Missouri’s Osage County with a 940-percent increase in cases in the past two weeks. The increase has an adverse influence on the economies of areas, driving people further into poverty. With people working remotely, more rural states invite better-paid workers to relocate to their area, but unvaccinated people will discourage that attempt. More highly educated people won’t prefer areas where people reject science and education—and areas where people are willing to kill themselves and their neighbors by not being vaccinated.   

Republicans blame President Joe Biden for the surging numbers of COVID infections because he doesn’t beg Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to endorse vaccinations. Yet DDT declared “people are refusing to take the Vaccine because … they don’t trust the Election results, and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth.” DDT’s followers support DDT by not being vaccinated.

Some GOP governors are nervous about the high number of virus infections and deaths in their states. Arkansas’ Gov. Asa Hutchinson bribes residents to be vaccinated and travels around to tell people why they should get their shots. Utah’s Gov. Spencer Cox said that “propaganda” against vaccines is “killing people” and established a website to debunk disinformation such as vaccines changing DNA, causing infertility and miscarriage, and containing microchips or tracking devices. Missouri’s Gov. Mike Parsons flipped from rejecting a push to vaccinate people to incentives and encouragement for vaccinations after the state’s average number of new cases almost tripled within the past month and the number of hospitalizations doubled. Some of the state’s counties have vaccinated under 20 percent of their residents because of GOP denial.

Other GOP governors like South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, who has designs on the White House, reveled in the vaccination rejection. Per capita, the state’s 2,000 deaths are almost six times the rate of deaths in Vermont which has a high vaccination rate. Another presidential wannabe, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, blocked mask mandates, denigrated expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, and falsified statistics. Declining hospitalization numbers suddenly leaped 73 percent in a month. In the last two weeks, the state, with 6.5 percent of the nation’s population, accounted for 20 percent in the new cases.

People have bizarre, false reasons for avoiding the vaccination, far beyond the bland excuse that it’s too “new”:

Three in ten—30 percent—of Republicans, DDT voters, and conservatives believe the federal government is using microchips inserted in vaccinations to track them.

Ninety percent of people who refuse to be vaccinated think they will have adverse side effects—even die—although about 99 percent of people dying from have not been vaccinated. About 635,000 people without vaccinations have died in the U.S.; four people have did from vaccinations.

Allowing people to kill themselves and others with vaccine disinformation is a First Amendment right. That one from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Fox network leads conservative mainstream media in pushing vaccine disinformation with Tucker Carlson, who considers being vaccinated an “intimate” act, at the head of the pack. Yet the company has a type of “vaccine passport” for workers returning to the offices. All of them received emails stating Fox had “developed a secure, voluntary way for employees to self-attest their vaccination status: by self-reporting dates they received their shots and vaccines used.” Fox explained that this “FOX Clear Pass” “will assist the company with space planning and contact tracing.” Employees not providing this information are required to have “daily health screening through WorkCare/WorkMatters.”

Even with asymptomatic cases, people can suffer long-term problems, a reason for being vaccinated. A study in Lancet reported up to one-third of COVID-19 survivors experience a mental health or neurological disorder with serious and possibly long-lasting effects within six months of an infection. The most common conditions are mood and anxiety disorders followed by insomnia and neurological complications—visual and auditory disturbance, vertigo, and tingling sensations. The loss of smell and taste or distorted vision can be distracting, and “brain fog” can be extremely annoying.

Dr. Rob Davidson, a Michigan emergency room physician, wrote an op-ed about his frustration about media vaccine disinformation fueling cases of COVID from lack of concern on the part of those who contract the disease and their refusal to isolate themselves. Davidson faces “anger, outrage, or denial” as well as refusal to follow hospital policy by wearing a mask. He blames “Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7” and reports medical professionals throughout the U.S. facing the same problems. Serious illnesses led to available vaccinations in his rural community with this tragic result:

“Our regional vaccination rate is discouraging, with only half of the population fully vaccinated. One predictor of vaccine refusal is Fox News viewership, which is heavily Republican and conservative. Indeed, Fox News is lurching increasingly to the right to win back the Trump voters it has lost to upstart right-wing outlets like Newsmax and One America News Network. Fox hosts’ current line on Covid-19 and vaccines includes wrongly equating vaccine outreach efforts with forced vaccinations and accusing community campaigns—also wrongly—of harvesting private medical information.”

Davidson reported that GOP leaders supporting vaccinations received death threats and “vaccinations are triggering shouting matches.” He wrote, “[Patients and their families] should listen to their family doctors for medical advice, not Sean Hannity—whom researchers have connected to higher infection rates—or Tucker Carlson, who suggested with zero evidence that Covid-19 vaccines don’t work.” He concludes:

“Time is not on our side. We must do what science and evidence tell us demonstrably work to defeat Covid-19: Wear a mask, get vaccinated and stop watching Fox News.”

A few Fox people may be turning around after last week’s New York Times article about the opposition of Carlson and Laura Ingraham to health experts’ recommendations for being vaccinated. Sean Hannity gave an impassioned plea for vaccinations; Steve Doocy and Bill Hemmer also supported vaccinations, much to the dismay of Brian Kilmeade. On Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said that not being vaccinated was the person’s “choice” to die and the government has no role in protecting the population.

An excellent piece by Heather Cox Richardson discusses how, according to the Preamble to the Constitution, the government is responsible for protecting people. FDR’s New Deal created a safety net, and Dwight Eisenhower declared that the government must protect people from disasters. He called his version of the New Deal “a middle way between untrammeled freedom of the individual and the demands of the welfare of the whole Nation.” One of his supporters explained that “if a job has to be done to meet the needs of the people, and no one else can do it, then it is the proper function of the federal government.” Abraham Lincoln said, “The legitimate object of government is ‘to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves.’…Making and maintaining roads, bridges, and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools; and disposing of deceased men’s property, are instances.”

Those GOP values disappeared with Ronald Reagan when Republicans called them “socialism,” and Republicans provided big business and wealthy people with massive tax cuts while voting against help for people in need. They opposed the American Rescue Plan before taking credit for its assistance and then fought the infrastructure bill providing millions of jobs and funding human infrastructure including childcare. Now Republicans attack vaccinations saving the lives of people who would most likely vote for them.   

The latest attempt to block vaccinations comes from a fringe group, “America’s Frontline Doctors,” that filed a motion in federal court against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to stop all vaccinations for COVID-19 in the U.S. Their outrageous assertions are here.

A piece by John Stoehr compares vaccination-deniers to hostage-takers who believe in a “political advantage … that ‘us’ has over ‘them.’” The more they are asked to be vaccinated, the more they say no. Anti-vaxxers claim they are heroes seeking individual freedom with no laws and regulations; villains “think politics is about problem-solving, … the death of their liberty.” Freedom to conservatives is to do or not do anything they want, but they don’t object to not having the choice to murder someone, get a driver’s license, or travel abroad without a passport. Stoehr writes:

“[Liberty] can be what we do together as a political community for the sake of individuals but also for the sake of the common good. It’s about the equitable use of the government for achieving such ends, especially solving collective problems, like a pandemic that has killed nearly 625,000. That means making people, by force if needed, do what they should.”

Republicans will do anything to make sure that Biden fails, including avoid vaccinations, but without COVID vaccines, the conservative population will shrink.

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