Some GOP governors are finally getting a clue on COVID, but not ours

Instant Photo Poster
By
Diane Roberts

Friday, August 6, 2021

Guest Commentator

Some GOP governors are finally getting a clue on COVID, but not ours

"Ron Desantis - Caricature" by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This commentary was originally published in the Florida Phoenix.


Gold! Florida stands on the top tier of the coronavirus podium: 12,888 in the hospital as of Thursday.


We’ve broken our own July 2020 record.  Florida now leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations.


We’re Number One!


Sure, Louisiana beats us in the sheer rate of COVID-19 infections in recent days, but on Thursday, we reported 20,133 new cases and 84 new deaths.


Gov. DeSantis blames the media. Reporters like to whip up “hysteria.”


If the press would stop reporting that Florida hospitals are in crisis, Florida hospitals would be fine. Or at least Floridians would be none the wiser.


Meanwhile, back to the actual death and suffering: 90 percent of the patients in Miami’s UHealth Jackson system have the coronavirus; Tallahassee Memorial, the capital’s largest hospital, is now treating the most COVID patients they’ve ever had; Broward’s Memorial Healthcare System is suspending elective operations; and AdventHealth Orlando hospital has so many infected they’ve declared a “code black,” canceling all non-emergency procedures.


“Our hospitals are open for business,” says DeSantis.


And business is booming. Nothing to see here — unless you’re interested in hearing about unvaccinated 20-year-olds on ventilators.


No doubt this makes sense from DeSantis’s vantage point, which often is outside Florida. Hell, you can’t run for president if you focus on just the one state. He’s been fundraising for Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (who famously called slavery a “necessary evil”), shoveling in his own campaign cash in Milwaukee, and addressing the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch-funded outfit, in Utah.


Out there, he got the screw-you capitalists all riled up about what he called a “Faucian dystopia,” which would presumably be a nation which trusts scientists and doctors to inform it about viruses, instead of a two-bit Trumpist with a closet full of hydroxychloroquine.


Clearly allergic to the truth, DeSantis continues to insist hospitalizations have slowed. His spokesmuppet Christina Pushaw tweeted at Nikki Fried, calling the agriculture commissioner a liar for having the effrontery to report the actual numbers of virus sufferers — sourced from those amateurs at the CDC — in Florida’s overstretched health care system.


Pushaw, like her boss a hissy fit-pitcher of operatic range, also attempted to suggest that Tallahassee’s high hospitalization numbers might have something to do with the town leaning heavily Democratic.


Deafened by derisive laughter from across the state, Pushaw later deleted those tweets.


How about a touch of verifiable information? Florida epidemiologists and infectious disease experts say “there is no higher risk area in the United States than we’re seeing here.”


Mary Mayhew, former head of the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration and now president of the Florida Hospital Association, says she’s alarmed at the rise in admissions. The president of the Duval County Medical Association Foundation urges the governor to declare a state of emergency.


Here’s what DeSantis imagines is an answer to this disaster. Sort through this compost pile of verbiage and see if you can figure out what it is: “I know the media fixates on cases, but the best indicator is the emergency room visits for COVID-like illness,” he says. “And when you see that go up, you know, you’re going to see an increase in prevalence and an increase in hospital admissions. When that levels off or goes down, all the other indicators follow that.”


Hmm. Maybe journalists “fixate” on COVID cases because: 1: That’s how we know how the virus is roaring through the population; and 2: People are dying.


To do the man justice, DeSantis does actively suggest Floridians get vaccinated. Yet one could forgive them for being confused, given that the governor also continues to ridicule vaccine proponents and mask-wearers, most notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, inspiration for the “Don’t Fauci My Florida” t-shirts and koozies he’s pitching.


Anyway, nobody’s going to force you to take a needle in the arm — No sir! Not here in the sovereign state of Florida — and nobody’s going to make you or your super-spreading teenager wear what some DeSantis voters call a “face condom” (think about that one for a minute).


Masks are an assault on your free-dumb!


According to the governor, the media must cease blaming people for being so infernally stupid that they think the vaccine is some kind of biotech weapon or that Bill Gates will be able to track their every move (because Bill Gates has nothing better to do) or that it will make them magnetic, and what if iron filings and paper clips start sticking to them?


These people are simply following their leaders, the venal, self-serving, nihilists of the Trumpist party. They’ve been so epically gas-lit that, even as they watch their kinfolk die of COVID, they still won’t wear masks or get vaccinated.


Several of DeSantis’ fellow Republican governors, watching their voters dropping like flies, do point the finger at the willfully moronic. Kay Ivey of Alabama has flat had it with vaccine refuseniks: “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks.”


The governors of Arkansas, Utah, and West Virginia are a little less blunt but have still expressed a certain exasperation. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas was heckled by a number of proud Americans during a town hall meeting on vaccinations, and when several people testified to the sheer awfulness of the virus, they were ridiculed and shouted down.


Gov. Hutchinson seems to be rethinking this foolishness. In March, he approved a bill outlawing mask mandates. He now says he wishes he had not.


The man is getting a clue: Arkansas has the third highest rate of new COVID cases, after Louisiana and Florida.


Alas, there seems to be no chance that Ron DeSantis will adjust his thinking to comport with reality. He’s virulently, passionately, one might say insanely, anti-mask.


According to DeSantis, masks don’t help prevent infection: “There’s not much science behind it.”

Actually, there’s a pretty decent amount of science behind it. The National Academy of Sciences says, “The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts.”


Not good enough for you? How about the Journal of the American Medical Association? 


“Compelling data now demonstrate that community mask wearing is an effective nonpharmacologic intervention to reduce the spread of this infection, especially as source control to prevent spread from infected persons, but also as protection to reduce wearers’ exposure to infection.”


Then there’s the American Academy of Pediatricians, strongly recommending kids wear masks when they go back to school.


But what do these losers — and their fellow travelers at the CDC — know? Clearly, they’re not as medically knowledgeable as Ron DeSantis and the hand-picked gaggle of fringey characters he convened on July 26 to tell him what he wanted to hear. One even told him that masks were “child abuse.”


So what if children get sick? They can’t vote.


As for the rest of us, apparently DeSantis can accept a number of preventable deaths as long as his Trumpist base feels that he’s owning the libs and sticking it to Joe Biden. He just has to hope that enough of his zealots can stagger to the polls in 2022 before they succumb to the virus.


Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.

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