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Analysis: Trump heads to Alabama but his Covid politics are everywhere

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Look no further than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. As the number of new coronavirus cases in his state soars, DeSantis is taking a page directly from Trump’s playbook — betting that an aggressive campaign against mandatory mask-wearing in schools will make him a GOP star nationwide as the party’s 2024 presidential primary comes into view.
“It is very important that we say unequivocally no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no to mandates,” DeSantis told the crowd at a conservative state policy conference in Utah on Wednesday.
  • More than 20,000 new Covid-19 cases are being reported daily in Florida. 
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem too. She’s used early trips to Iowa and to conservative political gatherings to take implicit jabs at DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans who mandated masks and closed some businesses during the pandemic.
“We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states; that they didn’t close their regions; that they didn’t mandate masks,” Noem said at the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in Dallas last month. 
“Now, I’m not picking fights with Republican governors. All I’m saying is that we need leaders with grit. That their first instinct is the right instinct.”
Noem even bragged that South Dakota hadn’t ordered a “single business” to close. “We didn’t mandate. We trusted our people, and it told them that personal responsibility was the best answer,” she said.
  • South Dakota saw the highest Covid-19 case increase per 100,000 residents in the nation over the past two weeks.
And Abbott. The second-term governor, who tested positive for the virus this week, has played to his party’s base and blocked health mandates intended to slow the pandemic’s spread ahead of a reelection bid next year and a potential presidential run in 2024.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%,” Abbott said as he lifted the state’s mask mandate in March and allowed businesses to open at 100% capacity despite warnings from public health officials.
Removing mandates, he added, “does not end personal responsibility and caring for your family members, friends and others in your community. People and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”
  • More than 12,400 people in Texas were hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, according to state data, an increase from 10,791 last Wednesday.

Coexisting with Covid

The relentless Delta variant surge has made an unfortunate reality even more clear: We are not going to be able to stamp out the coronavirus completely.
Instead, experts predict it’s going to become endemic, possibly joining the four or so common cold coronaviruses in circulation.
But that doesn’t mean the virus will always dominate our lives the way it has the last year and a half. Read this report from CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who spoke with experts who laid out what a safe coexistence means:
First thing first: vaccinations. “We need to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and an expert in the transmission of infectious diseases via aerosols.
“I know that kids 12 and under can’t get vaccinated, but when everyone else around them is vaccinated, it helps protect them too. But that’s the first thing.”
Keep masks around, like an umbrella. Among the experts, masking up was seen as almost as important as getting everyone vaccinated — especially with the ubiquity of the Delta variant.
Unlike earlier variants of the coronavirus, Delta has been shown to exist in the noses and upper throats of infected people, vaccinated and not, in almost equal amounts, even though the viral load drops off much more quickly in the vaccinated, according to an as-of-yet unpublished study out of Singapore.
Passing the test. Frequent rapid testing is something that Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, would like to see as well.
“We should be integrating rapid testing into our daily lives — a lot more routinely,” he said.

What else?

President Joe Biden focuses on ‘getting this job done’ in Afghanistan. While reports from the ground indicate that the scenes outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport are growing increasingly desperate, the President said Friday that the US is pulling off “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history.”
“Let me be clear: Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,” Biden said.
Capitol bomb threat suspect charged. The Justice Department has charged Capitol bomb threat suspect Floyd Ray Roseberry with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to use an explosive device, a judge said Friday.
Eviction moratorium holds up in court. In a brief order, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit said it was denying a request from the landlord groups who are challenging the moratorium to reverse a previous court order that has allowed it to continue.
US extends travel restrictions. The US is extending nonessential travel restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico through at least September 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday, citing the Delta variant.
East Coast braces for hurricane. Tropical Storm Henri will be a hurricane by Saturday and make a rare landfall in New York, Rhode Island or Massachusetts by Sunday, the National Hurricane Center says.
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