"Did you not get the CDC's memo?" Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joked Wednesday before an almost entirely unmasked audience of activists and lawmakers crammed into an indoor hotel ballroom in Salt Lake City.
"I don't see you guys complying." DeSantis joked with the crowd.
Once again, Ron DeSantis continues his war on masks, taking a play from the far-right playbook, demonizing the use of a protective barrier to stop the spread of the latest mutation of COVID-19 - the Delta variant.
Is DeSantis's War on Masks Helping the Rises Cases in Florida?
Why CDC reversed its mask-wearing guideline?
Here are some things to be aware of:
- The CDC changed its guidelines, reverting back to wearing masks indoors, even for the vaccinated because of the Delta variant.
- That variant is driving surges of COVID-19 in much of the country.
- It now accounts for more than 80% of infections.
- The vast majority of new infections in the US continue to be among unvaccinated people. Some vaccinated people are getting infected, although the vaccine cushions the blow and generally protects them from severe illness.
- Some troubling new – thus far unpublished – research has found that fully vaccinated people can spread the delta variant just like the unvaccinated, putting those who haven't received the shots or who have compromised immune systems at greater risk.
- Beyond vaccinations, there are few tools other than mask-wearing and social distancing to contain the spread of the delta variant, which studies have shown to be far more contagious than the original strain.
- The vaccine has been shown to dramatically decrease the risk of death or hospitalization.
- The virus is surging, in nearly 60% of U.S. counties.
- Previously, vaccinated people with "breakthrough infections" had low virus levels and were unlikely to spread the virus much. But new data shows that isn't the case with the delta variant. Vaccinated people have the potential to spread that virus to others.
So once again, the vaccinated are masking up to protect the unvaccinated.
The GOP Backlash Swift.
- 18 Republican-led states have moved to prohibit vaccine passports or to ban public entities from requiring proof of vaccination.
- Some have prohibited schools from requiring any student or teacher to wear a mask or be vaccinated.
- "We won't go back. We won't mask our children," declared Trump, who routinely cast doubt on the value of mask-wearing and rarely wore one in public while he was in office. "Why do Democrats distrust the science?"
- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called the new guidance "disappointing and concerning" and "inconsistent with the overwhelming evidence surrounding the efficacy of the vaccines and their proven results."
- Many Republican leaders are blocking preventative measures, like DeSantis's anti-mask stance, potentially making it harder to tame virus outbreaks in conservative communities.
- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey who has banned mask and vaccine mandates in his state.
- South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem called out the CDC for shifting its position on masking "AGAIN."
- Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted, "The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state."
- Conservatives also forced a vote to adjourn the chamber in protest to the mandate, which was defeated along mostly party lines.
The Reality of the Situation.
The nation is averaging nearly 62,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, and the vast majority of those hospitalized and dying haven't been vaccinated. As of Sunday, 69% of American adults had received one vaccine dose, and 60% had been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
In his Wednesday speech, DeSantis took particular aim at the CDC's call for kids to wear masks in the classroom.
"It's not healthy for these students to be sitting there all day, 6-year-old kids in kindergarten covered in masks," he said — though there is no evidence that wearing masks is harmful to children older than toddler age."
What do you think about masks? Will you wear one to snuff out the new strain so we don't go throught the entire Greek alphabet of strains and have to wear masks forever?
Let us know in the comments.
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