We are now in the third, fourth, or fifth wave of the pandemic in the US, depending on who’s counting. What is undeniable is that following an average low of around 80,000 weekly cases on June 22, we have now reached about 640,000 cases, an eightfold increase. Death rates reached a low of 1,500 on July 5th and have started rising since then, following the expected pattern of death rates lagging infection rates by about two weeks. Almost all this rise is among the unvaccinated and these people tend to be concentrated in places where there is a high level of vaccine hesitancy and outright resistance, mostly in Republican-dominated areas. But there are encouraging signs that those people who have been vigorously campaigning against vaccines and masks and other measures to combat the pandemic are losing the battle.
One sign is that Republican governors like Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Kay Ivey of Alabama have come out strongly in favor of vaccinations. Hutchinson blames the myths that have been propagated about vaccines while Ivey has come right out and said that we can blame the unvaccinated for the rise in infection numbers.
One can understand why governors might be getting more frustrated and breaking ranks. They are the ones who have to actually deal with the stresses on the health care system in their states caused by the surge. The state of Tennessee, that had paused all vaccination outreach at one point, is now faced with a surge of cases and has reversed that policy. People like Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House minority whip Steve Scalise have also urged people to get vaccinated.
It is easy for people in congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz or people on Fox News like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham to grandstand against vaccines and taking precautions because they do not have to deal with the consequences. Governors do not have that luxury, though governors Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas still seem determined to sacrifice their populations to their anti-vaccination fervor. Florida has seen record levels of hospitalizations.
A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke a previous record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available.
The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The previous record was from July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread, when Florida had 10,170 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19, as hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.
DeSantis continues to defend those who choose not to get vaccinated but I cannot imagine that he can continue to defy the science for much longer, however reluctant he may be to avoid losing face by changing course. There are just so many deaths that can be laid at your door that you can ignore.
We are also hearing more deathbed conversions where unvaccinated people on life support express regret for ignoring the health advice and plead for vaccinations after it is too late. Apparently some people are coming for vaccines in disguises because they are fearful of what might happen if the people in their anti-vax community learn that they have become renegades.
There are more signs that vaccinated people are fed up with the unvaccinated preventing the return to normalcy and expressing their anger with the unvaccinated and lending support to the federal government and private companies who have now imposed vaccination mandates on their employees or are considering doing so. The number of people getting vaccinated has started increasing and now 70% have had at least one shot.
Even Fox News-friendly lawyer Alan Dershowitz contradicted Ingraham for suggesting that vaccine mandates are unconstitutional, saying that she had no constitutional right to get on an airplane and spread the disease to him, at which point she talked over him and abruptly terminated the interview.
Even Geraldo Rivera got into a shouting match with his fellow panelists on some Fox News talk show because he said he had no patience with unvaccinated people putting everyone else at risk, pointing out that children under 12 are still not eligible for the vaccine and thus are at risk from the unvaccinated. Steve Doocy of Fox’s morning show has also urged people to get vaccinated.
The dead-enders will never give in. But the sudden rise in the number of people getting vaccinated and more conservative voices urging others to do so suggests that the anti-vaxxers are in an ever-decreasing minority.