The reactions of governors in the Southeast to the coronavirus pandemic are puzzling to say the least. They slap in the face of reason and are a contradiction to other emergency situations that occur with increasing regularity. Instead of offering guidance and comfort, the governors of these states are telling people that they are on their own.
Some are even going as far as threatening to punish those who are taking measures to protect the population, particularly the children who, as of yet, have not been eligible to receive life-saving vaccines. And yet these very same governors have no problem ordering people from their homes during a hurricane or restricting their Constitutional right to vote.
For some warped reason, requiring people to wear a mask during a deadly pandemic is a bridge too far. When it comes to masks, or pretty much anything else those on the right don’t agree with, there are the inevitable cries of government overreach and personal freedom. Air travel has become increasingly problematic as the nation reopens with anti-maskers attacking airline personnel over mask requirements.
Governors in several states in the Southeast have issued Executive Orders that ban mask mandates in schools and even private businesses. Yet, they don’t see this as overreach. Instead, meetings have turned violent as rabid anti-maskers attack those seeking to protect children from contracting the deadly virus.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold funding from schools who seek to impose mask mandates on their students and faculty. This despite the fact the number of coronavirus cases is skyrocketing and teachers have died in the opening days of the school year. Some schools have sought to get around this by incorporating masks into their school dress code, but even this is being met with possible consequences.
Texas had the mask mandates of Gov. Greg Abbott overturned by the courts, setting up an inevitable legal battle over separation of power. Despite Abbott contracting the coronavirus himself, he continued to push the mask ban in public schools.
While Georgia has a mask mandate, Gov. Brian Kemp has signed an executive order that allows businesses to ignore local requirements. This sets up the inevitable confrontations as businesses who want masks are challenged by those who refuse to wear them. Low paid retail and restaurant employees will be harassed, verbally abused and even threatened as they try to enforce their businesses mask mandates.
Vaccines have been a miraculous discovery. They have eradicated major illnesses and made lives safer for the entire world. All 50 states have vaccine requirements for students entering public schools. Even so, there has always been a group of anti-vaxxers who have made dubious claims about the supposed harm they attribute to vaccines.
The cry against vaccines has grown exponentially as the complaints of those who oppose getting the coronavirus vaccine grows ever louder. Even Donald Trump was booed at a recent rally when he suggested to the audience that they be vaccinated.
Ignoring the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, Florida Governor DeSantis has authorized opening of monoclonal antibody treatment centers for those currently afflicted. While promoting this, he is refusing to allow vaccine mandates as he continues to ridicule masks.
Despite this, several businesses, and even the federal government, have issued vaccine requirements for their employees. Of course, this has resulted in lawsuits attempting to fight these mandates. As of yet, these lawsuits have been unsuccessful, but that isn’t deterring those who oppose vaccines.
The Blame Game
As we endure our fourth wave of coronavirus cases, there comes with it the inevitable finger pointing as to why the virus continues to plague the United States. As cases, and even deaths, begin rising once again, people are attempting to blame various segments of the population that they deem undesirable when casting aspersions on their role in the latest outbreak.
Experts blame the most recent surge on the unvaccinated. They have strained hospitals in the hardest hit areas as those who become the latest fatalities express regret at not being vaccinated with their dying breath.
Despite this, those who oppose vaccines and mask mandates are attempting to blame migrants and even minorities for the current situation. Governors and Abbott are pointing their fingers at the influx of migrants at the southern border as the cause further fueling their anti-immigrant rhetoric.
In an overtly racist attack, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) tried to blame Blacks for the most recent COVID surge. He erroneously cited false statistics that claimed the increase in coronavirus cases could be traced to unvaccinated members of the minority population. While vaccine hesitancy is indeed present among this group, largely due to suspicion surrounding the Tuskegee Experiment, the number of unvaccinated African-Americans is minuscule when compared to the largely Republican population that refuses to get the vaccine.
The “Good” News
Despite the current situation, there is some good news. The pervasiveness of the Delta variant has resulted in a rise in those receiving their first vaccine. Despite this, the current rate of those Americans who are fully vaccinated stands at just over 50 percent. So, there is still a long way to go.
The CDC also approved a COVID booster shot as signs of waning vaccine efficiency appear in more breakthrough infections. This would mean greater protection from any possible future virus variants.
And finally, the FDA is set to grant full approval of coronavirus vaccines soon. Many who have expressed hesitancy at getting the vaccine have cited the emergency use authorization status of the vaccines as a reason for not getting the shots. Full approval should result in even more Americans receiving the vaccine.
When it comes to protecting their constituents, many governors in the heavily Republican Southeast would rather cater to public opinion than facts. Even as the death toll rises, they continue to fight the very measures meant to protect the population.
Hopefully, they will think differently the next time they issue hurricane evacuation orders. Otherwise, you’re on your own!