Florida reported another 901 previously unreported COVID-related deaths on Thursday, sending the 7-day average soaring to the highest it’s been through the pandemic. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control also showed 21,183 new cases.
The 901 deaths is the highest number reported in Florida, which has been releasing death counts in batches based on the date the deaths occurred. The 7-day trend based on the date the death was reported stands at 242, according to the Sun Sentinel’s analysis of the CDC data.
But, hey! Things are even worse in Alabama and Mississippi, so not to worry, right?
As of Wednesday, Florida ranked third in the nation for both average daily COVID cases and deaths per 100,000 population.
I believe these overwhelmingly substantiate my claim that the weight of current scientific evidence highly supports the value of mask-wearing in public and especially indoors (such as in classrooms). Science moves at it does: that was not the initial consensus view, and someday the weight of hypothetical new contrary evidence might push to a different view, but today, I think any rational person who wants their personal decisions, and the decisions of political leaders ,decided by science must accept that right now this is the far-better supported view.
Does that end the debate? Of course not; even without new data there could be countervailing considerations — although I think these largely are absent at present. I think the evidence tends to show that the downsides of masks, even for most kids, is low to zero. It’s possible there might be a religion I don’t know of that prohibits mask-wearing (there certainly are some that forbid vaccination, e.g. Christian Science). There might be the rare true respiratory disease that allows going out and about, but can’t cope with a mask.
Barring some rare edge cases, though, I think the evidence here is pretty clear: DeSantis and a few other governors are ignoring the clear evidence on the value of masks, and the direct effect of their crass and evil choices will be illness–some of which will be serious and long-lasting–and death. That really ought to matter to people.
Surely in any rational polity, one where country (or state) mattered more than party, the calls would be ringing to impeach Governor DeSantis for his campaign to cause the children of Florida to infect their (often elderly, or immunocompromised, or – this being Florida – unvaccinated) vulnerable relatives, thus leading in many cases to hospitalization and death.
But this is, demonstrably, not a rational polity. [Update: see Masking Is Effective] So the question, blunt and indecorous as it may be, must be asked: how many dead people will it take before impeaching DeSantis becomes sufficiently necessary that people demand it of our gerrymandered and Republican-controlled but, one assumes, still-human state legislature?
Recall that the Governor’s policy is not simply one of inaction in the face of pandemic: it is to very actively block local government attempts to prevent the spread of the disease, and to punish (now via his tame Board of Education) those who have the moral courage to act in the face of his attempts to intimidate them.
What’s that you say? There is no chance that the Trumpist Florida House of Representatives would ever risk angering its base — the kind of people who boo Trump himself when he encourages vaccination — by even tolerating a suggestion that ur-Trumpist DeSantis’s pro-death policy was in any way objectionable? I agree that is the most likely story. But ‘a week is a long time in politics’. And the movement has to start somewhere.
Bill Burr, calling DeSantis an [obscenity] politician.
CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner: COVID “is so high in Florida that I think if Florida was another country, we would have to consider banning travel from Florida to the United States.” And, DeSantis “needs to understand that he has painted himself into a corner. People are dying in Florida. It is going to get much worse.”
And this is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as ably summarized by Paul Waldman: fight science, keep people from stopping COVID, ignore the casualty count, brag (to the survivors) that you enraged the liberals:
Any politician can be an Internet troll concerned with nothing so much as Owning the Libs, and many in DeSantis’s party think that’s their most fruitful path to success. But to really capture the hearts of the party base, you have to show your willingness to do actual harm to people’s lives as you wage war against the other side. And that’s where DeSantis is excelling.
Not that he’s above trolling. DeSantis sells T-shirts attacking Anthony S. Fauci and is now blaming the covid crisis in his state on undocumented immigrants in Texas; presumably we’re supposed to believe they cross the border near El Paso, walk to Corpus Christi, then dive in the Gulf of Mexico and swim to Tampa, a superhuman covid triathlon that is now filling Florida’s hospitals.
That kind of idiocy aside, no governor in America has done so much to make the spread of covid more likely. DeSantis signed a law nullifying local public health measures and banning private companies from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination. In a case brought by Norwegian Cruise Line, which hopes to prevent its cruises from becoming floating superspreader events, a judge just blocked the law’s implementation.
And in an escalating battle with local officials, he instructed school districts not to require masks and even threatened to withhold funding from any district that does so.
Each of these moves creates conflict and headlines, and each one is guaranteed to produce outrage on the part of liberals and anyone else who actually would like to see the pandemic end, which enables DeSantis to position himself as a chief antagonist in the politicized struggle over covid.
To be clear, DeSantis has encouraged people to get vaccinated. But the bulk of his public focus has been on attacking efforts to actually slow the spread of the virus. “We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state, and I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state,” he says
With a state government so determined not just to do as little as possible itself to prevent the spread of the virus but to actively prevent anyone else from doing anything either, it isn’t surprising that the delta variant found particularly friendly ground in Florida. It’s now experiencing its worst covid surge since the pandemic began last year; last week the state registered an average of 19,000 new covid cases and 1,800 new hospitalizations every day. It accounts for an incredible one in five cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the entire country.
Yet the fact that Florida has become Delta Ground Zero has apparently only increased DeSantis’s determination to allow covid to continue spreading.
Certainly, to the extent that the plan is to enrage folks like me, the plan is working very well. And, true, the dead don’t vote. (They do have families.)
But hasn’t the time come to say, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
It is a luxury to be irresponsible in a society where others will be responsible for you, where you simply assume that you are safer because others take the appropriate precautions to be safe: You do not need to get the shot because others have.
But the Delta variant is testing that faith.
You will not be safe as an unvaccinated person riding on the coattails of the vaccinated. Delta is extremely transmissible and unremitting. It is stronger than its progenitor.
As the Delta variant surges there is an uptick in the pace of vaccinations in the country. It’s almost like religion: Many disbelievers will call out to whatever God there may be when the reaper is at the door. Fear of ideological defeat is no match for the fear of imminent death. And yet, it shouldn’t have taken another surge of sickness and death for good sense to set in.
Why were Americans turning away a vaccine that many people in other parts of the world were literally dying for? Many did so because of their fidelity to the lie and their fidelity to the liar. They did it because they were — and still are — slavishly devoted to Trump, and because many politicians and conservative commentators helped Trump propagate his lies.
It was all lunacy. It is all lunacy. This should never have happened. There are people dead today — a lot of them! — who should still be alive and who would be if people in the heights of government and the heights of the media had not fed them lies about the virus.
But apparently, after you get so used to so much blood on your hands, you forget — or make yourself forget — that you weren’t born with red palms.
I think we need much more of this. It is time to call out the politicians and TV/Radio stars who inveigled against the COVID vaccine — and most especially those vaccinated themselves — and say, in the sort of plain speaking that responsible people in public debate have tended to avoid, that opinion-makers who led people to mistrust the COVID vaccine are killers.
In particular, it is past time to call out, in the harshest terms, those Governors who–while claiming they are protecting freedom and choice–prohibit localities in their states from imposing mask mandates and other COVID precautions That includes Texas Governor Greg Abbott and of course our own Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
That is not protecting choice, that is protecting irresponsible and potentially deadly behavior. It is no more responsible than telling people it’s OK to drive on the wrong side of the road, and those traffic-cop supporters are against freedom. We’d call that out, wouldn’t we?