The wages of anti-vaxxing

Some of the people Fox News is killing:

The hospital is now busier than at any previous point during the pandemic. In just five weeks, it took in as many COVID-19 patients as it did over five months last year. Ten minutes away, another big hospital, Cox Medical Center South, has been inundated just as quickly. “We only get beds available when someone dies, which happens several times a day,” Terrence Coulter, the critical-care medical director at CoxHealth, told me.

Last week, Katie Towns, the acting director of the Springfield–Greene County Health Department, was concerned that the county’s daily cases were topping 250. On Wednesday, the daily count hit 405. This dramatic surge is the work of the super-contagious Delta variant, which now accounts for 95 percent of Greene County’s new cases, according to Towns. It is spreading easily because people have ditched their masks, crowded into indoor spaces, resumed travel, and resisted vaccinations. Just 40 percent of people in Greene County are fully vaccinated. In some nearby counties, less than 20 percent of people are.

Why? Partly because they’ve been told vaccinations are for Democrats – in other words it’s tribal. Their tribe is wimpy and gets the Fauci ouchy, our tribe is tough and hell no we don’t get no stinkin’ vaccination.

Almost every COVID-19 patient in Springfield’s hospitals is unvaccinated, and the dozen or so exceptions are all either elderly or immunocompromised people. The vaccines are working as intended, but the number of people who have refused to get their shots is crushing morale. Vaccines were meant to be the end of the pandemic. If people don’t get them, the actual end will look more like Springfield’s present: a succession of COVID-19 waves that will break unevenly across the country until everyone has either been vaccinated or infected…

That they are in this position despite the wide availability of vaccines turns difficult days into unbearable ones. As bad as the winter surge was, Springfield’s health-care workers shared a common purpose of serving their community, Steve Edwards, the president and CEO of CoxHealth, told me. But now they’re “putting themselves in harm’s way for people who’ve chosen not to protect themselves,” he said. While there were always ways of preventing COVID-19 infections, Missourians could have almost entirely prevented this surge through vaccination—but didn’t. “My sense of hope is dwindling,” Tracy Hill, a nurse at Mercy, told me. “I’m losing a little bit of faith in mankind. But you can’t just not go to work.”

Tucker Carlson, take a bow. Lauren Boebert, step up.

The grueling slog is harder now because it feels so needless, and because many patients don’t realize their mistake until it’s too late.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson never issued a statewide mask mandate, and the state’s biggest cities—Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, and Columbia—ended their local orders in May, after the CDC said that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks indoors. In June, Parson signed a law that limits local governments’ ability to enact public-health restrictions. And even before the pandemic, Missouri ranked 41st out of all the states in terms of public-health funding. “We started in a hole and we’re trying to catch up,” Towns, the director of the Springfield–Greene County Health Department, told me.

Well, that’s unfortunate, but at least Trump and Tucker Carlson have had a lot of fun.

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