𝘑𝘶𝘯𝘦 28, 2021
Both my national and local news feeds led with the same story this morning. The NY Times article by David Leonhardt stressed how heavily Republican areas of the US have a growing covid-19 problem. This is a reverse of earlier this spring when the virus was not spreading any faster in areas with low vaccination rates than in those with high rates. That seems to have convinced some that the pandemic was over. Governments opened doors and relaxed rules. Masks fell to the ground (literally) and social distancing was reserved for those who struggled with other immune deficiency problems. Now it seems we have moved too quickly, especially for those who have not or refuse to get a vaccination.
My local feed opened with an article by Yacob Reyes declaring our governor is making a push to reverse the low vaccination trends. Arkansas has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the nation, and as I watch the nightly broadcast the rate has stayed right around 40% for the last several weeks. Even the initial dose has stayed steady at around 10%. Our Republican governor commented on the slowed rate saying, “People saw the cases of hospitalizations go down. And so, the urgency of getting the vaccine slowed down.”
The Times article went on to report that the places with the lowest vaccination rates tend to be heavily Republican. In an average US county that voted Republican, only 34% of people are fully vaccinated. In an average country that voted Democrat, the share is 45%, and those receiving one shot is even higher. While it is too early to know whether the trend will continue and cases will rise in communities with low vaccination rates, it does seem likely. We have always bet on vaccination as the way the pandemic will end. Now we cannot get people to get the shot.
𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀: The US is in a phase where we will make a political statement out of anything. That seems true with masks and vaccination. While it might be argued that wearing a mask is a way to keep others from getting the virus from you (hopefully unknowingly, but not always the case), getting the vaccination is essentially about you. With waning numbers of vaccinations, many states have begun to offer incentives to entice people to get the shot. My state has already spent $2 million on incentives that include scratch-off lottery tickets and $20 gift certificates good toward hunting and fishing licenses. Some residents have been annoyed by the timing of the program, as only those who received a vaccine after May 26 qualify for the incentive. It is not enough incentive to keep from dying. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.