The Republican rhetoric in Washington, however, is a parallel spectacle to the real fight against Covid, in states like Florida and Texas.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis rejected vaccine passports and launched an aggressive campaign against compulsory masks in schools. “It is very important that we say, unequivocally, no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no to terms of office,” he told a rally of conservative activists in Utah this month. latest. DeSantis suspended city and county emergency orders, placed limits on future mitigation efforts, and signed legislation that “protects nursing homes, hospitals, and businesses from legal liability if employees and customers contract the virus on their premises ”.
All of this, even as the state has been ravaged by the Delta variant of the virus. Florida has reported more than 20,000 new infections per day and recorded an average of 262 deaths from Covid – the highest number of any state, at least in absolute numbers. More than 16,000 people are hospitalized and thousands have been taken to intensive care units. Who does DeSantis blame for these results? Biden.
“You know he said he was going to end Covid. He didn’t, ”the Florida governor told Fox News host Jesse Watters last week. “At the end of the day, he’s trying to find a way to distract from the failures of his presidency.”
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has banned mask warrants, signed legislation that would deny state contracts or licenses to businesses requiring proof of vaccination, and – after recovering from a Covid infection himself – even – prohibited local governments from requiring the vaccine for any public agency or private institution. In a statement, Abbott said it was to avoid a “patchwork of vaccine mandates across Texas.” But in a message to the state legislature, the governor appeared to ask lawmakers to consider an outright ban on vaccination warrants. On August 25, the day Abbott sent his message, Texas reported more than 23,000 new cases of Covid, as well as 14,000 hospitalizations and 245 deaths.
Abbott and DeSantis are not alone. Earlier this month, Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey created two new grant programs that would give funds to families and school districts that have rejected mask mandates. And in South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem applauded the Sturgis motorcycle rally again, a year after contributing to a Covid outbreak across the region and in the Midwest. This year, health officials have already linked the rally to cases in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The effect of all of this for the country is a pandemic that will not die. The effect for the Republican Party is that a substantial part of its base will not take the vaccine. According to data collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Republicans lag behind most of the rest of the country on immunization; 54 percent said they had received at least one dose at the time of the survey, compared to 67 percent of all adults. And the effect of that for Biden is a sharp drop in his approval rating; a Reuters poll conducted in the middle of the month found that the president was losing 21 points among all Americans for his handling of the pandemic.