Given the promise of reopened restaurants, relaxed mask mandates, and a steady surge of vaccines flowing into arms, it would be easy to mistake this summer as the end of the Coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than half a million people in the U.S. alone, and come to define the past year and a half of our lives. But not only is the virus still raging across much of the country (to say nothing of the world at large) it's doing so thanks in no small part to the dedicated conservative holdouts who remain steadfastly opposed to any sort of COVID mitigation efforts, be they masks, social distancing, or vaccination efforts.
"Four states accounted for more than 40% of all [Coronavirus] cases in the past week," White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced at a press conference on Friday.
That the country is in the midst of a resurgence in coronavirus cases is the predictable outcome of a concerted effort by Republicans to obfuscate, downplay, and capitalize on the pandemic for their own political gains at the expense of public health everywhere. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Florida, where "one in five of all cases" occurred last week according to Zients.
Let's take a look at Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' WinRed storefront, where the aspiring heir apparent to former President Donald Trump's proudly ignorant brand of politics sells his merch, as first noticed by The Washington Post.
For just $12 dollars, donors wanting to stick it to the man (in this case "science") can sheith their canned beverage in a koozie that proudly proclaims that drinking is more important that saving yourself and your loved ones from a catastrophic viral plague.
Here's the must-have fashion item when saying your final goodbyes to an elderly relative in the COVID ICU over Zoom. What, exactly, is threatening Florida's freedom? A federal effort to literally just keep people alive? Not in Ron DeSantis' Sunshine State, no sir!
This one is almost as bad as Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert calling Covid vaccinations the "Fauci Ouchie." Why is "Fauci" suddenly a verb? The obsession with a single medical professional that's suddenly turned Anthony Fauci into a synecdoche for any and all efforts to fight the pandemic is just extremely weird to me.
To be clear, the surging COVID numbers are not uniquely a Florida problem. Refusal to vaccinate against the virus — whether motivated by conspiracy theories, obstinance, or any of the other reasons some have offered — is happening everywhere, in red and blue states alike. But DeSantis' craven opportunism here is a perfect encapsulation of the cultural-political forces at work here. To him, the pandemic isn't something to fight against, so much as it's a means to make some cash and raise his profile among his party's Trumpified die hards. Emphasis on the "die" part.