Margaret Renkl | Republicans Have Gone Too Far in the Region Hit Hardest by Covid – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — In case you’re wondering how things are going here in the Delta Rising region of the United States, I regret to report that things are going badly. Very, very badly.

Our intensive care units are full. Our children are getting sick in record numbers. Nevertheless, a small subset of unmasked, unvaccinated humanity has taken to yelling during school board meetings, and the most extreme protesters have issued threats against nurses and physicians who dared to speak publicly on behalf of such reasonable pandemic mitigation measures as masks and vaccines.

It’s so bad that the Tennessee Medical Association had to issue a statement in support of the exhausted heroes who for the past 18 months have been risking their own lives to care for strangers. “The enemy is the virus, not health care workers,” the statement read.

This is what some of us have become here in the American South: people who need to be reminded that our doctors are not our enemies.”

Paul Krugman | Climate Denial, Covid Denial and the Right’s Descent – The New York Times

Opinion columnist

“Before the right embraced Covid denial, there was climate denial. Many of the attitudes that have characterized the right-wing response to the coronavirus pandemic — refusal to acknowledge facts, accusations that scientists are part of a vast liberal conspiracy, refusal to address the crisis — were foreshadowed in the climate debate.

Yet from the response to Covid-19 among Republican officials — especially the opposition to lifesaving vaccines — it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the paranoid, anti-rational streak in American politics isn’t as bad as we thought; it’s much, much worse.

On Monday the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report. The conclusions won’t surprise anyone who has been following the issue, but they were terrifying all the same.

Major damage from climate change, the panel tells us, is already locked in. In fact, it’s already happening, as the world experiences extreme weather events, like heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and floods in Europe, that have been made far more likely by rising global temperatures. And unless we take drastic action very soon, catastrophe looms.”

Here is the most popular comment, which I endorsed:

Yuriasian
Bay Area Aug. 10
Times Pick

The most pernicious word in any language is freedom. Pernicious because it has no meaning beyond subverting any notion of personal or collective responsibility. Gov DeSantis says Florida is a free state — folks can decide for themselves if they want to contract Covid or infect others (but businesses aren’t free to do business only with vaccinated customers because that would be a violation of freedom). Abbott in Texas says freedom is carrying a concealed weapon with absolutely no restriction. Sen Josh Hawley believes a mob attack on The Capitol is an exercise in freedom. GOP state legislators say they defend freedom by making it impossible for some to vote. A majority of Supreme Court Justices define freedom as telling woman they have no reproductive choices. For decades driving a Chevrolet (or more likely a 300 horsepower pickup) to see the USA was freedom at its gas guzzling best. America is the land of the free. Responsibility, consequences, that’s socialist talk. The want to take away our guns, monster trucks, smokes, even our burgers and steaks. What’s not free? Education, healthcare, equality, childcare, the right to vote, decent housing, livable wages. Covid, Climate Change are just socialist conspiracies against American freedom. Republicans love to say vigilance is the price of freedom. That’s a lie. The real price of freedom is responsibility, personal and collective. Most Americans have yet to earn their “freedom.”

59 Replies2802 Recommended

Opinion | Alex Azar: Americans Need to Get a Covid-19 Vaccine – The New York Times

“Among the many debatable issues around Covid-19 is one unassailable fact: The coronavirus is nonpartisan. It makes no judgment about one’s political leanings. The vaccines that were developed to fight this virus have no political bias, either.

And yet the reluctance and even refusal of many Americans — including many of my fellow conservatives and Republicans — to get a Covid-19 vaccine is a frustrating irony for those of us who worked to expedite these vaccines. While the vaccines have had doubts cast upon them by politicians throughout their production and rollout, whether a person lives in a red or a blue state has no bearing on the vaccines’ efficacy. They work incredibly well, and more than 160 million fully vaccinated Americans are proof.”

David Lindsay:  Here is the top comment, and it is to die for. And many will.

Richard Lee
Boston, MA4h ago
Times Pick

I’m a cardiologist who has taken care of many Covid patients and encouraged vaccination in all of my own patients. Most of my patients have been vaccinated–they know that if they have heart disease, getting vaccinated can save their lives. Among my remaining vax-resistant patients, there are a variety of explanations, and fear is the dominant one. I’ve tried all of the suggested strategies, and I agree with most doctors that some people just won’t get vaccinated not matter what you do. Here’s the bottom line. Given the data on the vaccines, not getting vaccinated is not only harmful to all of us, it’s self-destructive. What do we do with self-destructive behavior? We stop it so people don’t harm themselves. It’s time to mandate vaccines for anyone to take public transportation, shop in stores, eat in restaurants, teach in schools, visit doctor offices, or work indoors. Forget selfishness, since that argument isn’t effective. Mandating vaccination is saving the vax-resistant from themselves.

26 Replies2020 Recommended

Paul Krugman | ‘Freedom,’ Florida and the Delta Variant Disaster – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, isn’t stupid. He is, however, ambitious and supremely cynical. So when he says things that sound stupid it’s worth asking why. And his recent statements on Covid-19 help us understand why so many Americans are still dying or getting severely ill from the disease.

The background here is Florida’s unfolding public health catastrophe.

We now have highly effective vaccines freely available to every American who is at least 12 years old. There has been a lot of hype about “breakthrough” infections associated with the Delta variant, but they remain rare, and serious illness among the vaccinated is rarer still. There is no good reason we should still be suffering severely from this pandemic.

But Florida is in the grip of a Covid surge worse than it experienced before the vaccines. More than 10,000 Floridians are hospitalized, around 10 times the number in New York, which has about as many residents; an average of 58 Florida residents are dying each day, compared with six in New York. And the Florida hospital system is under extreme stress.

There’s no mystery about why this has happened. At every stage of the pandemic DeSantis has effectively acted as an ally of the coronavirus, for example by issuing orders blocking businesses from requiring that their patrons show proof of vaccination and schools from requiring masks. More generally, he has helped create a state of mind in which vaccine skepticism flourishes and refusal to take precautions is normalized.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Paul Krugman for another stunning essay.
You wrote, “True, many people doubt the science; the link between vaccine refusal and Covid deaths is every bit as real as the link between D.U.I. and traffic deaths, but is less obvious to the naked eye. But why are people on the right so receptive to misinformation on this subject, and so angry about efforts to set the record straight? My answer is that when people on the right talk about “freedom” what they actually mean is closer to “defense of privilege” — specifically the right of certain people (generally white male Christians) to do whatever they want.”
You then pointed out that freedom was used by white males to describe and defend Jim Crow laws. This meets the big test, it improves our understanding of bizarre events and behaviors. The comments today seem below average, which is to be expected half the time. To be above average, they need to connect to or discuss in some small way, the essay that allows them this extraordinary platform for active readers. It will be a pleasure to share your helpful essay with my readers at WordPress and Facebook.

Paul Krugman | How Covid Became a Red-State Crisis – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Less than a month ago President Biden promised a “summer of joy,” a return to normal life made possible by the rapid progress of vaccinations against Covid-19. Since then, however, vaccination has largely stalled — America, which had pulled ahead of many other advanced countries, has fallen behind. And the rise of the Delta variant has caused a surge in cases all too reminiscent of the repeated Covid waves of last year.

That said, 2021 isn’t 2020 redux. As Aaron Carroll pointed out Tuesday in The Times, Covid is now a crisis for the unvaccinated. Risks for vaccinated Americans aren’t zero, but they’re vastly lower than for those who haven’t gotten a vaccine.

What Carroll didn’t say, but is also true, is that Covid is now a crisis largely for red states. And it’s important to make that point both to understand where we are and as a reminder of the political roots of America’s pandemic failures.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that only Republicans are failing to get vaccinated. It’s true that there are stark differences in attitudes toward the vaccines, with one poll showing 47 percent of Republicans saying they are unlikely to get a shot, compared with only 6 percent of Democrats. It’s also true that if we compare U.S. counties, there’s a strong negative correlation between Donald Trump’s share of the 2020 vote and the current vaccination rate.”

Ezra Klein | What if the Unvaccinated Can’t Be Persuaded? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I hate that I believe the sentence I’m about to write. It undermines much of what I spend my life trying to do. But there is nothing more overrated in politics — and perhaps in life — than the power of persuasion.

It is nearly impossible to convince people of what they don’t want to believe. Decades of work in psychology attest to this truth, as does most everything in our politics and most of our everyday experience. Think of your own conversations with your family or your colleagues. How often have you really persuaded someone to abandon a strongly held belief or preference? Persuasion is by no means impossible or unimportant, but on electric topics, it is a marginal phenomenon.

Which brings me to the difficult choice we face on coronavirus vaccinations. The conventional wisdom is that there is some argument, yet unmade and perhaps undiscovered, that will change the minds of the roughly 30 percent of American adults who haven’t gotten at least one dose. There probably isn’t. The unvaccinated often hold their views strongly, and many are making considered, cost-benefit calculations given how they weigh the risks of the virus, and the information sources they trust to inform them of those risks. For all the exhortations to respect their concerns, there is a deep condescension in believing that we’re smart enough to discover or invent some appeal they haven’t yet heard.

If policymakers want to change their minds, they have to change their calculations by raising the costs of remaining unvaccinated, the benefits of getting vaccinated, or both. If they can’t do that, or won’t, the vaccination effort will most likely remain stuck — at least until a variant wreaks sufficient carnage to change the calculus.”

Ezra Klein is professionally delicate. The comments are far more direct and forceful. Time for sticks. No vaccination, no more access to public events, no more access to government services and payments, no more health or life insurance. Carrots don’t work, but sticks do.

Alexandra Petri | Concerned vaccine skeptics push back against disturbing fad of teenagers living – The Washington Post

1.5k

“TENNESSEE — Stunned by the tidal wave of teenagers receiving accurate health information and possibly even being vaccinated against communicable diseases, legislators here have rallied to put a halt to the startling mania that has swept from high school to high school.

Youths the state over were partaking of the fad in their pediatricians’ offices, seemingly as fast as they could get to the needles. But at the urging of Republican state legislators, Tennessee’s health department has stopped all vaccine outreach to minors, not just that pertaining to the covid-19 vaccine. Concerned parties took swift action in Ohio, too, where legislators have prevented schools from following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention around vaccinations. Thank heavens someone was pushing back against this horrible new pattern, protecting young people who would otherwise succumb and be vaccinated, almost guaranteeing them a miserable 60 or 70 additional years on the planet.

Source: Opinion | Concerned vaccine skeptics push back against disturbing fad of teenagers living – The Washington Post

Margaret Renkle | Dolly Parton Tried to Get Tennessee Vaccinated. But It’s Not Enough. – The New York Times

t8Sopmonsoredcn The New York Times

 

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Margaret Renkle takes off her soft linen gloves.
“Dolly Parton Tried. But Tennessee Is Squandering a Miracle.
July 19, 2021, 793 comments, By Margaret Renkl, NYT:
” . . . The anticipation of happiness seemed truly ecumenical. Liberals, conservatives, politically indifferent people — everyone I knew was watching for their vaccine priority number to come up. We were signing up for leftover doses that might be available at the end of the day. We were heading out of town to get vaccinated in rural counties where health officials were moving more quickly through the vaccine priority rankings. The empty vaccine lines should have told us something was happening in those counties, something besides the fact that fewer people lived there.
Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, understood what was going on. Mr. Lee is vaccinated, but he refused to be photographed getting the shot — the Covid shot, that is: He did post a photo of himself getting a flu shot last November. “Getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year,” his Twitter post read. “I got mine to help protect my granddaughters as we prepare to celebrate their first birthday.” Not a word about protecting children from the deadliest pandemic in a hundred years.
None of this was surprising. Mr. Lee is not a leader who actually leads so much as a politician who reads the room. From the beginning, white people in rural Tennessee have been so skeptical of this vaccine that last month state officials returned an allotment of three million doses to the federal stockpile. “We’re sort of grinding to a halt,” the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Lisa Piercey, told News Channel 5 in Nashville. “The people who want it have gotten it.” “
“. . . The planet is growing more crowded, bringing people into closer contact with diverse animal and human populations. At the same time, the health risks associated with climate change are ratcheting upward. But just as protection against communicable diseases becomes increasingly urgent, conservative media outlets are sowing doubt and delusion in the Republican base, and feckless elected officials are following suit. Like Mr. Lee, his licked finger held aloft in the wind of rural white discontent, other Republican leaders in the South take their lifesaving vaccines in private and give lip service to perverse notions of “freedom” in their public statements.” . . .
Campaign funding from the national oligarchs is what sets legislative agendas across the red states, so I can understand why these penny-ante politicians are working so hard to limit tax-funded safety nets. I can even understand why they’re so hell bent on killing public education. It clearly benefits the wealthy for taxes to be low or nonexistent and for poor people to be incurious and compliant. But how can it possibly benefit the oligarchs to risk the lives of the very people who keep electing their toadies to statehouses in the first place? I just don’t get it.” . . .

Opinion | Brazil’s Covid Inquiry Reveals Bolsonaro’s Mismanagement – The New York Times

Ms. Barbara is a contributing opinion writer who focuses on Brazilian politics, culture and everyday life.

“SÃO PAULO, Brazil — It’s not often that a congressional inquiry can lift your spirits. But the Brazilian Senate’s investigation into the government’s management of the pandemic, which began on April 27 and has riveted my attention for weeks, does just that.

As the pandemic continues to rage through the country, claiming around 2,000 lives a day, the inquiry offers the chance to hold President Jair Bolsonaro’s government to account. (Sort of.) It’s also a great distraction from grim reality. Livestreamed online and broadcast by TV Senado, the inquiry is a weirdly fascinating display of evasion, ineptitude and outright lies.

Here’s one example of the kind of intrigue on offer. In March last year, as the pandemic was unfurling, a social media campaign called “Brazil Can’t Stop” was launched by the president’s communications unit. Urging people not to change their routines, the campaign claimed that “coronavirus deaths among adults and young people are rare.” The heavily criticized campaign was eventually banned by a federal judge, and largely forgotten.

Then the plot thickened. The government’s former communications director, Fabio Wajngarten, told the inquiry that he didn’t know “for sure” who had been responsible for the campaign. Later, stumbling over his words, he seemed to remember that his department had developed the campaign — in the spirit of experimentation, of course — which was then launched without authorization. A senator called for the arrest of Mr. Wajngarten, who threw a contemplative, almost poetic glance to the horizon. The camera even tried to zoom in. It was wild.

That’s just one episode; no wonder the inquiry holds the attention of many Brazilians. So far, we have been treated to the testimonies of three former health ministers — one of them had major issues with his mask, inspiring countless memes — as well as the head of Brazil’s federal health regulator, the former foreign minister, the former communications director and the regional manager of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

The upshot of their accounts is obvious, yet still totally outrageous: President Jair Bolsonaro apparently intended to lead the country to herd immunity by natural infection, whatever the consequences. That means — assuming a fatality rate of around 1 percent and taking 70 percent infection as a tentative threshold for herd immunity — that Mr. Bolsonaro effectively planned for at least 1.4 million deaths in Brazil. From his perspective, the 450,000 Brazilians already killed by Covid-19 must look like a job not even half-done.  .. . .”

Sema K. Sgaier | Meet the Four Kinds of People Holding Us Back From Full Vaccination – The New York Times

Nicholas Konrad/The New York Times

Dr. Sgaier is the C.E.O. of Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit organization focused on using data to address health problems, including Covid-19.

“Getting everyone vaccinated in the United States has become much harder now that demand for the Covid-19 vaccine is flagging. America’s vaccination strategy needs to change to address this, and it starts with understanding the specific reasons people have not been vaccinated yet.

The conventional approach to understanding whether someone will get vaccinated is asking people how likely they are to get the vaccine and then building a demographic profile based on their answers: Black, white, Latinx, Republican, Democrat. But this process isn’t enough: Just knowing that Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated doesn’t tell us how to get them vaccinated. It’s more important to understand why people are still holding out, where those people live and how to reach them.

Why are people where you live still not getting vaccinated? Select your state below.      . . . . “

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