Next American Covid Tragedy Could Follow Partisan Lines
The question of why some Americans are so reluctant to get vaccinated – a process that hampers hopes of fully rolling back the virus – is causing growing frustration for the governor of one of the most conservative states in the Union: the Republican Jim Judge of West Virginia.
“If we were all vaccinated, wouldn’t you think fewer people would die? If you are not vaccinated, you are part of the problem rather than the solution.”
The president did not harass or condemn vaccine skeptics, but instead played on their sensitive chords, appealing to their desire to protect their family, friends and country, warning those who jumped the blow remained in great danger.
“So please get your shot now. It works. It’s free. And it has never been easier, and it has never been more important. Get it now for yourself- even and the people you care about; for your neighborhood, for your country, ”Biden said. , as he rolled out a revamped US strategy to reach those who had not yet been vaccinated – which will put more emphasis on primary care physicians and pediatricians.
“It sounds cheesy but it’s a patriotic thing to do,” the president said.
The vaccine map looks like the political map
Biden has some political capital to spend after managing the successful deployment of Covid-19 vaccines and as he shifts the country from actively combating the pandemic with milestones such as widespread mask wear, shutdowns of businesses and social distancing, to learn how to live with the virus at lower levels.
But as usual in a polarized nation, the poll showed a huge gap in the perception of his performance between Republicans – only 8% of whom approve of the overall work he does – and Democrats. And most concerning for the cause of the end of the pandemic, the survey revealed a chasm in attitudes towards vaccines that helps explain why Biden failed to meet his goal of at least 70% of Americans to receive a dose of vaccine before Independence Day. .
Polls have shown that 86% of Democrats have received at least one dose of Covid-19 inoculation – compared to just 45% of Republicans. And 38% of Republicans say they definitely won’t get any dose of the vaccine.
There are many reasons why a person may choose not to be vaccinated. People in rural areas – who often vote Republicans – who have not seen major outbreaks of Covid-19 and who live far from others may not see the need. The younger ones were told they are at less risk, although that may change with the Delta variant. This block of the population is increasingly in the sights of the White House. Other Americans can wait for the Food and Drug Administration to improve its emergency approval of Covid vaccines with full clearance.
A haunting reality
More than 99% of deaths from Covid-19 in June were unvaccinated people, the country’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr Anthony Fauci, said on Sunday. This means that all but a tiny fraction of those casualties should still be alive – and every injection given from now on has the potential to save lives. Additionally, and as Covid-19 rates rise again after months of progress, new data shows states with low vaccination rates have nearly tripled the rate of new Covid-19 cases, the University says. Johns Hopkins.
Other university data compared to the 2020 election results shows that 15 of the 16 states with the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated residents were won by Trump. And Biden won 19 of the 20 election battles ranked by the highest percentage of the fully immunized population. He shared the 20th – Maine – with Trump, winning three electoral votes against that of his opponent.
So while the argument that Democrats are more likely to get vaccinated than Republicans ignores certain nuances and medical, demographic, and economic considerations are at play, the evidence strongly suggests that political leanings are an important determinant of attitudes towards vaccines.
Former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Thomas Frieden noted during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” when he pointed out that the vaccines had been developed under the Trump administration, in a apparent moment of awareness among conservatives.
There are more and more real-time indications of a political connotation in the fight against Covid-19.
The largely pro-Trump West Virginia, for example, got off to a quick start in the vaccine race. But it has since slowed down, despite offering incentives like lotteries to get people vaccinated and now only has 35% of its population fully vaccinated, according to figures from Johns Hopkins.
Justice explained that it means in human terms.
“We have a lottery that basically says if you’re vaccinated we’re going to give you stuff. You’ve got another lottery going on. It’s the lottery of death,” Justice told ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson also told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday that political and cultural reasons were hampering the vaccination effort in the Natural State.
“In a rural state in a conservative state, there is hesitation, and you try to get over that,” Hutchinson admitted.
From the onset of the pandemic, the coronavirus possessed an almost bizarre ability to widen American political divisions, a process exacerbated by politicians like Trump who played on the distrust of government and science among his constituents for his own political advantage. .
The fundamental act of wearing masks, social distancing, and restrictions introduced by federal, state and local governments have clashed with American skepticism of authority and the nation’s genetic credo of individual freedom. In a pandemic however, the reluctance of a segment of the population to get vaccinated ultimately has an impact on everyone – as it expands the viral pool that could lead to vaccines escaping variants and could also cap economic activity. whether further social distancing is needed. For Biden, it’s also a political issue, given the importance of reviving the country to the Democrats’ midterm hopes.
Trump undermined science
Regardless of the member of the Oval Office, the national preference for individualism over altruism would have been a unique complication of America’s response to the pandemic – compared to some European and Asian countries where people have a view of the more community-based world.
And in many ways America’s streak of independence and its distrust of centralized power is the hallmark of a border nation born out of a revolution that has built what is so far l most powerful economy ever.
But Trump, who wields vast influence among grassroots conservatives, has repeatedly undermined public health messages – in an apparent effort to galvanize his main supporters ahead of the 2020 election.
Even when he announced new federal guidelines recommending that Americans wear masks in public places in April 2020, the then president said he would not follow them. “I just don’t want to wear one myself,” Trump said, and spent the following months openly flouting public health guidelines while staging high-profile events during his failed re-election campaign.
Trump’s push for conservative states to reopen last summer acknowledged the appalling toll of shutdowns that wreaked havoc on the economy overnight. But it also likely caused many deaths that could have been prevented when Covid-19 rose.
The chances that conservative Americans still reluctant to get vaccinated belatedly listen to public health officials are further undermined by the assault on Fauci by Trump, his cronies and the right-wing media.
The veteran official, who has served the Republican and Democratic administrations for decades is accused, without evidence of covering China amid debate over whether Covid-19 was of natural origin or whether it is had escaped from a virology lab in Wuhan.
The campaign appears designed to rewrite the story of Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans under his watch as he contemplates a political comeback.
But when the country leaves behind a summer that restored many freedoms before the pandemic, it would be a tragedy – if predictable – if the winter toll of growing deaths could be predicted simply by checking the electoral map.