This story was excerpted from the July 14 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.
The Missouri emergency physician is in the epicenter of a new storm of Covid-19 infection, as the Delta variant scythes through populations skeptical of vaccines that leave recipients 99% immune from dying of the disease. “Most of the patients I see are regretful that they didn’t get vaccinated,” said Morrison, who himself caught Covid but didn’t even know until he was tested as his symptoms were so mild because of the vaccine. “I’m not there to wag a finger at them at that point, when people are that sick,” Morrison said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
Morrison said there are many reasons why people won’t get their shots, including misinformation or that they simply didn’t take the time to do it. But one of the saddest aspects of the pandemic is that politics, that have already infected everything else in America are hampering the vaccination drive. Republicans long used to political leaders and right-wing leaders downplaying the virus and criticizing the government, are far less likely to get vaccinated. And they are paying the price with their lives. Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri — a state won by Trump last year — just opened a sixth Covid-19 ward and is seeing a surge higher than the last terrible peak in December 2020.
Prominent right-wing politicians meanwhile are use Covid skepticism to power their political careers. Several falsely claimed the Biden administration’s voluntary vaccine push to Nazism. Rising star South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem complained GOP governors who introduced rather lax social distancing should have shown more “grit.” Never mind that her sparsely populated state ranks worse in Covid deaths than many others with big virus-spreading cities.
“After all President Trump and his supporters take credit for developing the vaccine … Why the heck won’t they take advantage of the vaccine that they received plaudits for having developed it?” asked Mitt Romney, who only nine years ago was the presidential nominee of the Republican Party but is now a pariah because he committed the sin of standing up to Trump’s extremism.