But the pure defensive comes second. Occasionally there is a story that causes a quick response from Fox News simply because they view it as a threat that must be suppressed at all costs. The Texas power grid collapse last February was a prime example when millions of Texans froze in the dark due to a catastrophic failure of the Republican governor of Texas and the Republican-dominated state legislature (Fox instantly made renewable energy sources and even the Green New Deal which had nothing to do with the power debacle in Texas).
Most importantly, Fox News needs to convince viewers that Republicans or Republican politics are never to blame. The COVID-19 pandemic was no exception. So it’s understandable why Wallace hit a nerve here: Because what she said was absolutely true.
As explained in this article by Charles Sykes, who writes for Politico, the latest Fox / GOP exercise is on the diversion of blame – the quick one from high profile Republicans like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – The overwhelming increase in COVID-19 infections in Delta variants in states like Texas and Florida was believed not to be due to low vaccination rates among Republicans, nor to 19 months of disinformation about social distancing, masks, and the severity of the virus. No, it’s all the fault of the Biden government that lets undocumented immigrants into the country.
Sykes is effectively cleaning up that absurd new Republican spin, so I’m not going to include his rebuttal here. Much more interesting is the awkward narrative that tries to avoid this type of blame: The fact that, by and large, Republicans and Republican voters are the reason states are now reintroducing masking mandates in schools, why companies are rethinking their plans over the summer so that workers can return to their physical offices, and why the short, joyful interlude most of us enjoyed early in summer looks like it is due to the surge in delta variant COVID-19 infections come to a standstill.
Republicans really, really don’t want to be held responsible for this in the coming months. But Wallace is right: while Joe Biden and the Democratic Party may have saved most Americans the summer by making an unprecedented effort to vaccinate as many as possible, Republicans and their disproportionately persistent unvaccinated voters will be responsible for the rest of the world is ruining the year for all of us, especially parents with young children.
The Delta variant, first observed in India last October, emerged as the dominant strain of the virus in the US sometime in July. By the end of July, about 86% of Democratic voters had received at least one vaccination, compared with 52% of Republicans. Those numbers may have shifted a bit when horror stories of ICU patients begging for a vaccination too late made the media, but to spread to the unvaccinated population – and prompt a reassessment of masking and social distancing measures in many companies – that the ship had already left on July 1st. Almost half of all Republicans eligible for the vaccination had remained unvaccinated for some reason at the time Delta came to power, and it soon became apparent that this variant was highly transmissible, even from people who had received the vaccine.
In the meantime, children under the age of twelve remain unvaccinated because the effects of the vaccines on them are not sufficiently understood to permit their use. These vaccines may not be approved for younger children until later this year or even later. Although the Delta variant of COVID-19 is not an absolute child killer, many children can still die from it, and the place they catch it is the ubiquitous Petri dish called “School”. Children with even modest cases of Delta COVID-19 can and will bring this virus home to their unvaccinated parents. And because the delta variant can also be spread by vaccinated people, literally no one who remains unvaccinated is safe.
As a result, many states have already reversed and announced that children going to school this year will have to wear masks, following the same distancing protocols that we all believed to be ancient history at the end of May. Republican scoffers may say they don’t care what they read on the internet or heard of Tucker Carlson on Fox News, but with over 90 million eligible Americans unvaccinated disproportionately from Republican-ruled states having the virus for over a year effectively mocked, the forecast remains extremely bleak.
As reported in Science magazine:
Many computer models predict that case numbers will peak sometime between mid-August and early September. According to forecasters at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), this peak can bring up to 450,000 daily cases. IHME’s models have sparked controversy throughout the pandemic, and other groups are more conservative: the COVID-19 forecast hub is forecasting the daily number of cases on Jan. […]
IHME researchers are forecasting a peak of around 1,000 deaths per day in mid-September and a total of 76,000 additional deaths by November 1st. But if 95% of the people in the United States wear masks, their model predicts, 49,000 of those lives would be saved. Americans, including young and healthy people, shouldn’t underestimate this variant, warns Ali Mokdad, an IHME epidemiologist. “Delta is a bad one,” he says.
The problem, however, is that we will never see mask usage up to 95% as many adult Republicans still refuse to wear them. As Axios reported last month, “The toughest opponents of coronavirus vaccination – the group that says they’ll never get one – are usually older, whiter, and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still convincing.” While masks in schools may protect unvaccinated children from spreading the virus from other children in their classrooms, they cannot protect those same children from being infected by their parents.
So what could be inevitable are more school closings, more quarantines, more returns to online learning (for younger children who have not yet been vaccinated), and more angry families with young children forced to stay home even if theirs Jobs to be opened in the fall. All thanks to the Republicans and their disinformation tip from Fox News. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said this week:
This is now the GOP’s pandemic. Cynical and irresponsible Republican politicians have created an environment that kills Americans who shouldn’t die, floods hospital systems with desperately ill patients, and generally ensures that the pain and disruption of Covid-19 is or should be with us longer than necessary. And they did this in their own interest.
Yes, the more contagious Delta variant is driving this new wave. But vaccinations and the wearing of masks can curb that surge in cases and prevent these new diagnoses from leading to hospitalizations and deaths.
Can we possibly be so stupid that we ignore all empirical evidence and insist on inflicting serious self harm? Ambitious Republicans bet the answer to that question is yes.
Unfortunately, the high infectivity of the delta variant does not stop at national borders for the rest of the country. Had the Republicans not started a disinformation and lying move, the number of fully vaccinated Americans would now be over 80% and the Delta variant, if still extremely virulent, could have been tackled. There probably wouldn’t have been a need for kids to mask again, more than at the beginning of summer. But millions of vaccinable Republicans haven’t, and as a result, parents will live with the consequences for the next several months.
No wonder Fox News is upset. You just can’t handle the truth.