Two Americas?

Yet more evidence that we're a nation divided.

A Guardian report declares “‘Two Americas’ may emerge as Delta variant spreads and vaccination rates drop.” The crux:

Only 52% of Republicans said they were partially or fully vaccinated, and 29% said they have no intention of getting a vaccine, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll. 77% of Democrats said they were already vaccinated, with just 5% responding that were resisting the vaccine.

I would argue that this demonstrates that “two Americas” already exist and this is just another manifestation.

Then again, a report (“Far-right activist Ammon Bundy announces run for Idaho governor“) seen on the sideline of the article gives me some modest hope.

Idaho Republican party chairman Tom Luna said this month that Bundy is not welcome among GOP ranks, KTVB reported, pointing to Bundy’s failure to register as a Republican before at the time he filed initial campaign paperwork.

“Furthermore, we do not support his antics or his chaotic political theater,” Luna said. “That is not the Idaho Republican Party, and we will not turn a blind eye to his behaviors.”

This is a state that voted to re-elect Trump 63.89% to 33.09% last November. Alas, given that there’s a primary system for choosing the nominee, it’s not obvious that Luna has any say in the matter.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, COVID-19, Society, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Only 52% of Republicans said they were partially or fully vaccinated, and 29% said they have no intention of getting a vaccine, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll. 77% of Democrats said they were already vaccinated, with just 5% responding that were resisting the vaccine.

    Can’t have a world class cult of personality without some mass suicide.

    24
  2. MarkedMan says:

    America is dividing up the way you outlined, but that isn’t all that unusual. Whenever we have a change in the understanding of public health and a subsequent change of policy, there is a a division. Just look at anti-smoking and how long it has taken us to get to where we are, and there are still tens of millions of smokers in the US. People who don’t smoke have a significant difference in longevity and an overwhelming difference in last-ten-years quality of life. The public has segregated itself into non-smoking and smoking populations and wherever there is overlap their is strife.

    The thing that is new, and much more dangerous, is that never in my memory has American public health officials said, basically, “here is one set of policies for those who are able to deal with reason and the facts, and here are a few warnings for those who cannot, but we know they won’t listen to us, so F*’em.” It might sound reasonable, but Public Health officials don’t normally respond that way. They know that overcoming ignorance and distrust are as much a part of their jobs as infrastructure and science. They don’t give up on the parts of the population that reject their message and so, for example, millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours are still spent on getting out the message about smoking. So what is different? What led them to act this way, and essentially abandon the deniers?

    I believe it’s because for the first time American politicians have exploited a health issue to rile up a violent mob. Public Health officials are not just being verbally abused or minimized, they are being stalked by crazies with assault weapons. Even in parts of the US where politicians routinely rile up violent mobs to maintain their power, stirring them up about race or religion, as far as I know that technique was never used for public health matters. That has changed. And I don’t know if that genie can be put back in the bottle.

    7
  3. Teve says:

    There are two groups of people at my job: the college grads, who are all vaccinated, and the non-colleged, who are mostly not, but who are ‘Washed in the Blood of Christ’. Two of the washed group are at home now for two weeks after testing positive for Covid.

    7
  4. charon says:

    I have posted this link previously, describes the natural trend of permanent minority factions to keep getting more extreme and more uncompromising.

    https://thebulwark.com/thucydides-on-partisanship-insurrection-and-the-risks-of-civil-war/

    From nearly 2500 years ago, things don’t change.

    7
  5. Kathy says:

    Up to around the dawn of the 20th century, the leading causes of death in most of the industrialized countries were infectious diseases of some kind. Now we have as leading causes metabolic disorders like heart disease and cancer, which also tend strike later in life (for the most part).

    Three things changed this: 1) better hygiene and sanitation, 2) antibiotics, better drugs for other things, and better health care technology, and 3) vaccines.

    In many ways, vaccines are the greatest development in public health ever. You’re not only spared disease, the consequences of disease, or even death by disease, but you’re spared even getting sick.

    They only have two shortcomings: 1) some pathogens are, as yet, impossible to vaccinate effectively against, and 2) people need to take the vaccines. Progress is taking place on the first point, but we may have hit the ceiling on the second.

    7
  6. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    They only have two shortcomings: 1) some pathogens are, as yet, impossible to vaccinate effectively against, and 2) people need to take the vaccines. Progress is taking place on the first point, but we may have hit the ceiling on the second.

    The damage done by Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 paper linking vaccines to autism is immeasurable; it is the anti-vax movement’s Protocols.

    11
  7. Michael Cain says:

    Fundamentally, the Bundys whole shtick is that the public lands are for the use of the extraction industries: timber, mining, water for the farmers, grazing for the ranchers. Everyone else can pound sand. This is an increasingly unpopular stand in the West. Colorado College (well-regarded private liberal arts school) does an extensive annual survey of the Mountain West states. The 2021 Idaho summary page on conservation is here. Two-thirds of the adults oppose the Bundy position, at least when they’re on the phone with an interviewer.

    Another data point: when Ryan Zinke was Trump’s Secretary of the Interior he a set of speeches that he used everywhere except when he was back in Montana, where he still entertained some aspirations of being governor.

    1
  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Well, or course. The inability for a large swath of Americans to accept basic empirical facts was always bound to split the country in two; it was inevitable.
    What’s truly amazing is the arrogance of the idiots. You see it at all the Cult45 rallies. Rubes who will buy almost any lie have a such a conviction that they know the real truth, that they feel superior to anyone who doesn’t see what they see. There is a collective narcissism amongst these people who believe that their opinions supersede reality.
    What changes this? Maybe the variants that are more deadly will convince them. But probably not. They’ll just blame it on Critical Race Theory.

    4
  9. Pete S says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I think maybe at some level the public health officials have to be doing a CBA of people trying to take themselves out of the gene pool, finally being succesful. There have always been young men taking stupid risks for thrills. There have been people who took risks because they didn’t know any better. But I don’t really remember a time when so many people were willing to risk the lives of themselves, their families and their communities just to exercise their view of freedom.

    3
  10. CSK says:

    In http://www.theatlantic.com, George Packer is arguing for the existence of four Americas.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Pete S: Compare the reaction to vaccine deniers to much longer running issues such as smoking, alcohol use, bicycle helmets, seatbelts, gun locks, fluoridation in the water, drinking raw milk, and on and on. Public Health officials normally see denialism as just another challenge in moving towards better overall health. This is the first time in my life that they (and I should be clear, “they” doesn’t encompass all PH officials by any stretch) have basically washed their hands of an affected group.

    1
  12. R. Dave says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: What changes this? Maybe the variants that are more deadly will convince them. But probably not. They’ll just blame it on Critical Race Theory.

    I think as the variants spread and unvaccinated people see that it’s only them getting sick and dying, about half of them will quietly just get the vaccine and memory hole their own denialism. The other half will be encouraged by people like Tucker Carlson, Hannity, the OANN and Newsmax crowds, etc. to blame it on immigrants for bringing the variants here, and to channel that fear of the disease into more stridently xenophobic attitudes rather than personal course correction.

    3
  13. There is zero doubt that partisanship is driving much of this behavior, and that Trump and the way he handled the pandemic did vast damage.

    But I also think we need to be careful about being too simplistic here.

    The polling notes 52% of Rs who are at least partially vaccinated. Likewise, 23% of Ds who are not. Those who are self-identified as resistant (29% of Rs and 5% of D) is where the real divide is.

    So, it’s not just partisanship, although partisanship is a major variable.

    (Or, perhaps it is partisanship that almost requires us to try and put everything into one of two boxes since we are only given two real choices. And so even when the data show us more than two categories, we feel the need to talk about only two.)

    Put another way: the dichotomy here is between vaccinated and unvaccinated. Yes, more Ds are in the vaccinated groups than the unvaccinated one, the correlation is not perfect by any stretch,.

    Then there is the question of why the unvaccinated behave as they do, and how much is partisanship, and how much is something else (e.g., education level)?

    (And, really, the issue of the 29% of Rs who are adamant about not getting vaxxed fit what I have noted before–that there is the larger GOP, here represented by 52%, being driven by the group who truly loves Trump, the 29%).

    Just some thoughts that could certainly use more development.

    5
  14. Kylopod says:

    @R. Dave: I have noticed from my experience that a lot more people are ambivalent about vaccines than liberals often admit; it isn’t just a division between hardcore anti-vaxxers and pro-vaxxers. But partly that has to do with the mixed signals from right-wing media and politicians (including Trump). Since the pandemic began, one of the notable things about the right’s reaction is that it has not been one unified message of denialism; it has lacked any unified message at all and been all over the map. And it creates the weird effect of hearing right-wingers with their usual hard-nosed certainty about everything, who seem completely unaware of how confused and inconsistent their own beliefs on the pandemic are.

    3
  15. MarkedMan says:

    @R. Dave:

    about half of them will quietly just get the vaccine and memory hole their own denialism

    I suspect a fair number of them will get the vaccine and continue their denialism.

    Years ago, my wife worked at a Planned Parenthood affiliate. Each year, all the affiliates in the region would have an annual fundraiser, which gave the workers a chance to meet and swap experiences. One of the big topics of conversation were instances where various protesters who would show up every day or every week to scream invective at those workers would show up in the clinic on a day when they knew no protest was scheduled and get an abortion for themselves, a daughter, a granddaughter, a friend. And then be out on the lines a week later, screaming at the nurses and office workers who performed the procedure and sat with them afterwards. They were secure in their knowledge that the clinic workers would protect their confidentiality.

    8
  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    that there is the larger GOP, here represented by 52%, being driven by the group who truly loves Trump, the 29%

    I don’t know if that’s a useful way to look at this division. The 52% have little influence with the Republican leadership. The 29%, or rather the violent and highly motivated sub-group that are strongly motivated to threaten the Republican officials either politically or physically, are what drives policy in the Trump states. That heavily influencing faction is virtually non-existent in the Democratic Party.

    6
  17. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: This goes along with poor right-wingers who use food stamps and Medicaid, while continuing to rail against those programs in general. They always manage to convince themselves that their situation is an exception, that they are deserving of these things unlike those “other” people mooching off the govt.

    “I’ve been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No. No.” — Craig T. Nelson

    6
  18. Pete S says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I agree this is a new reaction. I just think the fatigue of protecting people from wilfully harming themselves has finally overwhelmed some public health officials. I expect this attitude to expand to other wilful self-harms as well. Maybe with the exception of guns where much of the harm is directed completely outwards.

    3
  19. sam says:

    @charon:

    Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot a still shrewder; but to try to provide against having to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries. In fine, to forestall an intending criminal, or to suggest the idea of a crime where it was wanting, was equally commended until even blood became a weaker tie than party, from the superior readiness of those united by the latter to dare everything without reserve; for such associations had not in view the blessings derivable from established institutions but were formed by ambition for their overthrow; and the confidence of their members in each other rested less on any religious sanction than upon complicity in crime. The fair proposals of an adversary were met with jealous precautions by the stronger of the two, and not with a generous confidence. Revenge also was held of more account than self-preservation. Oaths of reconciliation, being only proffered on either side to meet an immediate difficulty, only held good so long as no other weapon was at hand; but when opportunity offered, he who first ventured to seize it and to take his enemy off his guard, thought this perfidious vengeance sweeter than an open one, since, considerations of safety apart, success by treachery won him the palm of superior intelligence.Thucydides, III 69-85, The Civil War at Corcyra

    In one of my classes on Plato, the professor said he believed that Plato’s Theory of Forms was prompted by his reading of Thucydides; that he, Plato, was trying to rescue the Greek language from the distortions of partisan politics by locating the reference of general terms in an unchanging reality. It’s of more than passing interest, I think, that another great philosopher, in another culture faced with similar political chaos, saw things in much the same way: Confucius during the Period of Warring States in ancient China:

    Tsze-lu said, “The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?”

    The Master replied, “What is necessary is to rectify names.” “So! indeed!” said Tsze-lu. “You are wide of the mark! Why must there be such rectification?”

    The Master said, “How uncultivated you are, Yu! A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.

    “If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

    “When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.

    “Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.” The Analects -13

    Truth, these two great thinkers believed, is not the first casualty of war, language is.

    6
  20. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan:

    This is the first time in my life that they (and I should be clear, “they” doesn’t encompass all PH officials by any stretch) have basically washed their hands of an affected group.

    I’m not seeing this–most places are still trying valiantly to encourage those who aren’t yet vaccinated to do so. Maine, which has decent vaccination rates, has just launched a new lottery that ties the jackpot to the number of people vaccinated (Link). Other states are continuing to press on as well.

    I’m not sure how much else CAN be done. Smoking was different insofar as there was an industry to target as well (and there are still smokers). There will always be a certain segment that won’t heed advice, no matter how it’s put forward.

    4
  21. EddieInCA says:

    You’re all better human beings than I am.

    Eff all those who wont’ get vaccinated due to “freedom” or “Microchips inplanted” or “Bill Gates wants to control us.”

    I hope each one of them gets Covid and, literally, die. A slow painful death.

    Eff them.

    8
  22. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So what is different? What led them to act this way, and essentially abandon the deniers?

    Because they’re tired and they know it’s not worth the effort at this point. It’s time to confront some harsh realities.

    In triage, there exists the category of people you’re not likely going to save because of restrictions on resources/time/effort so you are essentially leaving them to die. These things are fungible and so it the mental and emotional bandwidth the caretakers have to offer. It’s not a moral choice but rather one based in reality: you can’t save them all, you’ll burn yourself out trying and then those who had a chance lose a caretaker and may die when they could have lived. There’s only so much one can do and frankly, healthcare workers are starting to get fed up with this nonsense of working to the bone to save morons who call them liars and deliberately risk spreading plague. We’ve asked so much from these people for over a year of non-stop trauma, heartbreak and suffering through the worst of this pandemic and now they’re expected to keep doing it for folks who choose to get sick? What’s more important to preserve in a functioning society: the doctor or nurse who can save dozens of lives or the conspiracy theorist who ignores reality and is a disease vector? There’s really no barrier to getting vaxxed anymore; it’s a personal choice and the consequences of that choice may very well kill you.

    As per our thread a few days ago should the zombie apocalypse happen and there were morons who insisted on going out and partying in an infested area or bites don’t cause infection, we wouldn’t be letting them back into the safe zone whenever they please. We’d be writing them off as dead and possibly holding them at bay with force to keep the rest of us safe. We wouldn’t be trying to convince them of the obvious because at some point, Darwin takes over and they’re not worth it.

    So many of my coworkers and friends in frontline healthcare have reached the “F*ck it let ’em die” stage. I’ve heard grumblings that they shouldn’t have to care for them – just stabilize them and ship them off to hospice or home to let God sort it out. I’ve heard outrage that beds are still being filled with new COVID cases that didn’t have to happen and now they’ve got a potential long-hauler taking up space that could have been for an emergency. They’re *done* and it’s filtering up. The next step is insurances starting to refuse coverage to new COVID cases if they aren’t vaxxed; after all, they can deny claims based on specific activities and their outcomes so vaccine refusal during a pandemic seems like a logical denial status.

    10
  23. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Eff all those who wont’ get vaccinated due to “freedom” or “Microchips inplanted” or “Bill Gates wants to control us.”

    I hope each one of them gets Covid and, literally, die. A slow painful death.

    Except their behavior will lead to the development of new variants that may eventually (or even quite soon) elude the vaccines. These people aren’t just harming themselves; they’re a danger to all of us.

    8
  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: As a “washed in the blood of Christ” who also got a vaccination appointment on the first day I found one available, I wish that people would stop implying that only evangelicals or spiritually devout people are this relentlessly stupid. I don’t expect my wishes to be honored, but only because most of us are no better/more reasonable than the people we choose for enemies in our most trivial disputes. Transference and projection are us.

    8
  25. EddieInCA says:

    @Kylopod:

    Which is why I hope they die. Slowly and painfully.

    4
  26. EddieInCA says:

    @Kylopod:

    The head of our covid team has told me that he expects Moderna and Pfizer to have a boosters shot available for the Delta variant within 3 months.

    Soon as it’s available, I’m getting one, that’s for damn sure.

    8
  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m with @EddieInCA: . I’m tired of trying to get idiots and assholes to keep themselves healthy. I think the mRNA vaccines – perhaps with boosters – are likely going to be able to handle variants. We may not reach herd immunity but herd intelligence will improve.

    4
  28. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA: The point is that even if you don’t have any compassion for the vaccine-hesitant, it’s still important that we make the effort to convince them to take it. It won’t sway everyone–some are beyond hope–but there are enough people on the fence to make the effort worth it.

    5
  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @R. Dave: “The other half will be encouraged by people like Tucker Carlson, Hannity, the OANN and Newsmax crowds, etc…”

    Make no mistake, the Tuckers, Hannitys, and OANN and Newsmax LEADERS are getting vaccinated. They’re just not talking about it around the rubes. They have an image to uphold, after all.

    4
  30. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The thing that is new, and much more dangerous, is that never in my memory has American public health officials said, basically, “here is one set of policies for those who are able to deal with reason and the facts, and here are a few warnings for those who cannot, but we know they won’t listen to us, so F*’em.”

    Can you expand on this? I’m having trouble understanding what this is in reference to — and it doesn’t seem to match anything I’ve seen.

    The only thing I can think of is the removal of the mask recommendation by the CDC, and that seems more inept (either the policy change, or the messaging) than “fuck these people.”

    At the federal level, I see the Biden administration setting an ambitious goal, and struggling to meet it (I hope that after the rounds of “Biden failed!” and the weird victory lap on the right, the attention will spur some low-information folks to go get the vaccine).

    At the state level, I see advertisements every day, pushing for people to get vaccinated. Some of the big mass vaccination sites are being scaled back, but that’s because of demand, and we’ve built out a network closer to people.

    1
  31. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Can’t have a world class cult of personality without some mass suicide.

    Am I a bad person that I do not care if those who chose to ignore all warnings may die?

    Like the old story:

    God Will Save Me

    A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.

    A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”

    The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”

    As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”

    The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”

    The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.

    A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I will pull you up!” But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”

    Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.

    When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”

    And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”

    ( source )

    10
  32. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    The damage done by Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 paper linking vaccines to autism is immeasurable

    I have been wondering for a while now if he might someday end up with the title of “most prolific mass murderer in history” at some point, if you measure by how many people would not have died if he hadn’t published his fabricated results.

    1
  33. Gustopher says:

    I think I’m more on the side of forced vaccination than gleefully watching people die…

    Hear me out. We take the one shot J&J vaccine, mix it with tranquilizers, and go hunting people in rural communities. The tranquilizers are to help cut down on them shooting back with real guns.

    Alternately, require proof of vaccination for airplane travel. See if that helps.

    2
  34. KM says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I can assure you it’s not just evangelicals; this insanity is across all levels of society. My elderly agnostic father is the last holdout for vaccination in the family and his very devout, fundie brother-in-law spent all Father’s Day trying to convince him to get the shot.

    In fact, most of the evangelicals I personally know have been vaxxed and are lining their kids up to be as soon as they can. They believe God provides and that an effective vaccine was found so quickly must be Provenance at work. They’ve heard the 5G / Bill Gates / Mark of the Beast nonsense but either rationalized it or realized no football games if no shot (priorities, man!). Besides, they think they’re Saved with a capital S so even if this did turn out to bad, they’ve still got an assured space in Heaven so why not?

    3
  35. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: Anyone remember the 2011 GOP debates where several of the candidates got on Rick Perry’s case for signing an HPV vaccine mandate? I particularly remember Michelle Bachmann claiming that vaccines cause “mental retardation.” (It sounded like she was parroting the Wakefield hypothesis without knowing the difference between autism and retardation.) Limbaugh of all people declared that Bachmann had “jumped the shark,” and her poll numbers immediately dropped.

    Up to that point, anti-vaxxerism was commonly thought to be a crackpot belief on parts of the left. It was advocated by several Hollywood celebrities and some weird fringe figures like Robert Kennedy Jr. In the coming years, it would gradually come to be promoted by many on the right (including Trump himself in 2016). I remember a poll showing that anti-vax beliefs were roughly evenly distributed on both the left and the right. I’d be curious to see that poll done again today–not just about Covid but vaccines in general.

    1
  36. Scott F. says:

    I think it is oversold to use vaccination resistance as an indicator of Two Americas. It’s early, so my math may be wrong, but by my calculations: less than 30% of the roughly 43% of the US who self-declare as Republicans, plus 5% of the roughly 48% who call themselves Democrats would give you less than 15% of the US who are telling pollsters they won’t get the vaccine. That’s almost fringe level percentages. In addition, anti-vaxxers are mostly siloed regionally, so there’s isolation there as well.

    It makes no sense to me to treat these folks as nominally half the country.

    3
  37. charon says:

    @Kylopod:

    Except their behavior will lead to the development of new variants that may eventually (or even quite soon) elude the vaccines. These people aren’t just harming themselves; they’re a danger to all of us.

    That is logical, sort of, but compared to the opportunity places like Brazil and India provide the virus, I can’t be all that impressed.

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen:

    I’m not seeing this–most places are still trying valiantly to encourage those who aren’t yet vaccinated to do so

    True, and that’s why I put in the caveat that it didn’t apply to all Public Health officials. But it most certainly applies to the Feds, who in one fell swoop went from precautions based on overall population risk to focusing on the vaccinated and giving short shrift to the unvaccinated. Many, many local PH officials were shocked by this, and some even felt abandoned. And then of course states like Florida have essentially given up on everything but vaccination.

    Even in relatively sane states like Maryland, everything has pivoted to vaccination. And the Federal announcement was based solely on vaccination status. There is no effort to identify areas that are still at risk and mandate or even propose additional mitigations until the rates come down. The death rate in a number of Trump states is still going up today (Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana) and that number was a lot higher when the CDC made its announcement. All of those places should be keeping masking, closures, etc in place but the CDC made no attempt whatsoever to encourage that.

    I’m not blaming the CDC or state officials who have given up. I would be a poor Public Health official because I would write people off on stupidity alone. But PH officials DON’T do that. But when that stupidity is coupled with back stabbing from political officials and violent threats from armed loonies, even their better natures can get beaten down.

    1
  39. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: See my reply immediately above.

  40. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: it was smart of you to get the vaccine, and I hope everyone does. But both sentences in my post were factually true. Covid has hit my workplace twice this year, both times making several unvaxxed people sick. Here’s a snippet of a conversation I had last week.

    Me: wait, J_____ has to stay home for two weeks now? He’s old enough to get the vaccine months ago.
    Coworker: he doesn’t need it. He’s got The Blood Of The Lamb to protect him. And he probably gave it to A_____ since she’s in the office next to him. They’re both out for 2 weeks.

  41. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kylopod:..but there are enough people on the fence to make the effort worth it.

    How do you know this?

  42. Kathy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I’ve never felt sorry for maskholes, and others who don’t take even the most basic precautions, who have contracted COVID.

    As regards vaccines, a great many among the unvaccinated will be children and teens who may want to get the vaccine, but their covidiot parents won’t let them.

    And as regards deaths, we’ve become really good at treatment of severe disease, both in CVOID and others. The death rate from COVID has been falling in most countries for that reason. Adult covidiots will fall ill, certainly, perhaps in large numbers. But most of them won’t die.

  43. Jen says:

    I have an agnostic BIL who isn’t getting vaccinated, and 90+% of his concerns about it has to do with the speed at which the vaccines were developed.

    There are multiple vaccine-hesitant/vaccine-resistant “buckets.”

    1) Those who don’t trust it because “government.” (Note: this is NOT just Republicans)
    2) Those who don’t trust it because “it was developed too fast, how can it possibly be safe?/We don’t know what the long-term consequences are.”
    3) Those who don’t think it’s necessary because covid “isn’t serious/99% survival rate.”
    4) Those who don’t trust vaccines in general.
    5) Those who believe they will be protected by God.
    6) Those who mix and match the above list and therefore have multiple objections.

    If there are two Americas, it’s between those who can digest what the science is and who trust experts, and those who do not. Trust is an interesting thing, and trust in institutions of all kinds has been on a downward slide for years. (The Edelman Trust Barometer tracks this (PDF), and it’s a global phenomenon.)

    Assuming there are only two groups–those willing/those unwilling to be vaccinated–is an oversimplification, at least as far as communicating to the resistant group.

    2
  44. gVOR09 says:

    @Pete S:

    But I don’t really remember a time when so many people were willing to risk the lives of themselves, their families and their communities just to exercise their view of freedom.

    Not coincidentally I don’t remember a time when a president would massively risk public health thinking it helped him politically. Trump deliberately made COVID another fault line in the culture war.

    5
  45. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    Adult covidiots will fall ill, certainly, perhaps in large numbers. But most of them won’t die.

    And those most likely to die are, by far, the old. Which cuts against the Darwinian argument I run across.

  46. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR09:

    Not coincidentally I don’t remember a time when a president would massively risk public health thinking it helped him politically.

    Well, there was Reagan and AIDS. I discussed the differences here recently. Reagan was politically able to ignore AIDS, due to the nature of the crisis. Trump wanted to ignore Covid but it just wasn’t possible for him to do so fully.

    1
  47. KM says:

    @Kathy:

    Adult covidiots will fall ill, certainly, perhaps in large numbers. But most of them won’t die.

    But this is just as big a problem as it still puts a strain on healthcare resources and leaves a segment of the population with lingering damage that will have to be addressed for months or years to come. A looming conversation is how do we handle post-COVID complications and how much social stigma or repercussions should it have. More and more studies are coming out to show COVID does *damage* up to and including loss of brain tissue. One of the tell-tale signs of COVID was loss of sense of smell and taste – now we’re finding out it’s because you lost grey matter you’ll never get back. Yes, the brain can reroute but that’s a serious issue on top of the blood vessel damage, lung tissue loss, increased risk of diabetes and mental illness. So no we’ve got a huge segment of the population with potential multiple disorders that require lifelong medical intervention that will drive up costs and eat away at resources – the endo doctor can only see so many patients a day, after all.

    Sad as it is to say, the lower death toll is going to be a mixed blessing. More people survive but are damaged for life and the stress of our healthcare systems return to normal anytime soon. Maskholes and covidiots will continue to hurt us for decades to come with their selfishness .

    3
  48. Mimai says:

    I’ve been trying to model my own thoughts and feelings on this (ie, consequences for people who do not get vaccinated). So I’ve been trying to think of parallels. Or what might be considered adjacent issues.

    Here’s what I’ve come up with: torture, death penalty, preventive detention, extrajudicial killings.

    I can sort my thoughts and feelings about these, and I have a good sense of where they align and diverge. I can then compare this to my thoughts and feelings about people who are resistant to (or downright anti) COVID vaccine.

    This is useful but unsatisfying. I feel like there’s something I’m missing….a more appropriate parallel than I haven’t considered. Will continue to noodle, but I’m open to suggestions.

  49. Mimai says:

    @Jen:

    This is a very important point. I’m glad you made it. I think it expounds on what Steven was saying.

  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai:
    Seatbelt laws and motorcycle helmet laws.

  51. Mimai says:

    @Jen:

    Quick follow-up: Even the issue of trust in institutions isn’t so simple (as you no-doubt know). Many Trump admirers are mistrustful. Many minoritized groups are mistrustful. Many in the “rationalist” community are mistrustful. Among others.

    But these groups are mistrustful in different ways and for different reasons. And the seen/unseen consequences of those differences vary quite a lot.

  52. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yes, I considered these but left them out because the costs are primarily at the individual level.

    ps, As you may know, motorcycles are often referred to as donorcycles in among transplant providers.

    1
  53. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    If there are two Americas, it’s between those who can digest what the science is and who trust experts, and those who do not.

    I will not hedge in saying a lot, and I mean the bigger part, of mistrust in science and experts comes down to bad scientific reporting in mass media.

    Specifically the tendency to over hype surprising results from one (1) lone study, especially when it comes to findings in nutrition and medicine. Nutrition studies are notoriously unreliable and hard to conduct well. Ergo the “bacon will kill you/miracle bacon diet” cycle.

    2
  54. KM says:

    @Jen:
    Of the groups listed, only a few are theoretically perusable based on their argument but that also pre-supposes they’re not going to change the premise to maintain the objection. For instance, explain to the “it was developed too soon!” group that since COVID is actually SARS-2 and we’ve been working on a SARS vaccine for years it’s right on schedule you’ll get them shifting premises to “we don’t know the long term side-effects”. Point out it’s been over a year and how long is “long-term” or “too soon” being defined and they’ll rapidly shift to “we don’t have enough data like we do with other drugs/vaccines”, in which case you get stuck in an endless loop as they refuse to admit there’s no timeframe or data level that will satisfy them. It will forever be “too soon” even 10 years down the line and databases full of stats. The government will always be out to get them, God will always have their back and original position fallacy means they’ll never think they’ll be one of the unlucky ones.

    What it comes down to for all these groups is unthinking gut feelings of trust. They’ll shift their arguments when you counter because they don’t *have* a solid reason for rejecting the vaccine, just a base bad feeling and they’re aware that’s not enough. Invoking a higher power (God, science, Darwinism, luck of the draw, statistics, biological immunity, etc) all covers up the bedrock of denial: they don’t want to. If God Himself spoke to all the world and said Get Thyself Vaxxed Now, they would disobey Him citing the evil One World Satanic government and there’s not enough data, Lord! 20 years from now, they’ll be telling their children not to vaxx the grandkids as God will save them just like He saved Trump and this is was developed by evil Dems in just 2 weeks so it can’t be good for you. The justifying logic will shift as needed because in the end what matters is their feelings, not facts.

    2
  55. Teve says:

    The “unknown long-term side effects” people don’t know that no vaccine in America has ever been linked to a side effect that takes longer than 6 weeks to appear.

    2
  56. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    The “unknown long-term side effects” people don’t know that no vaccine in America has ever been linked to a side effect that takes longer than 6 weeks to appear.

    They are also conveniently ignoring the not-as-unknown long-term side effects of COVID-19 among those who fail to die.

    3
  57. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Anyone who’s had at least one child no longer counts towards the Darwin awards.

  58. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: (re: Andrew Wakefield) “I have been wondering for a while now if he might someday end up with the title of “most prolific mass murderer in history” at some point, if you measure by how many people would not have died if he hadn’t published his fabricated results.”

    Well, with COVID we should credit him with a few 10’s of thousands, at least.

  59. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Well, the Darwin Award idea was always based on a pop-science understanding of Darwinism. Actually, I blame Herbert Spencer (who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest”) for first confusing the public over the fact that natural selection is about reproductive success, not “survival” per se.

  60. Jen says:

    @Teve: Yes! I know! But they get stuck on that because of long-term effects of *medications* that have come out, but they don’t understand that there are major, major differences between medications (e.g., Thalidomide) and vaccines.

    @KM: I’m very familiar with the reason-shifting you mention here. I’m in New England so we don’t hear the “God will protect me” very frequently (this is the least-religious section of the country if I’m remembering my Pew polling data correctly), but there are plenty of other ways to get to “no” on the list I mentioned. In this area, one is far more likely to run into a Libertarian who is in a “you can’t tell ME what to do with MY body” stance, than a religious stance.

    1
  61. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    it most certainly applies to the Feds, who in one fell swoop went from precautions based on overall population risk to focusing on the vaccinated and giving short shrift to the unvaccinated. Many, many local PH officials were shocked by this, and some even felt abandoned. And then of course states like Florida have essentially given up on everything but vaccination.

    I think you’re over dramatizing the motivations to say that they are “giving up” on a large chunk of the population.

    There was a lot of bad messaging, but I think there was a good faith effort at the CDC to shift from containment through lockdown to containment through vaccination.

    The vaccination drive then became stupidly political.

    This pivot was a mistake: Keeping up mask mandates would have given the crazies something non-vaccine to rant about, rather than letting them pivot to undermining the vaccine effort.

  62. Gustopher says:

    @Barry: But would any of it have been possible without Facebook?

  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: Thanks, but I don’t need to be assured. I already know what you’re saying is true.

  64. DrDaveT says:

    @Jen:

    In this area, one is far more likely to run into a Libertarian who is in a “you can’t tell ME what to do with MY body” stance, than a religious stance.

    I always want to ask them if they would like to contribute toward a public statue of Mary Mallon, Champion of Personal Liberty.

    1
  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: Sorry. Can’t help you. I can see circumstances where I’d be willing to trample on the rights of others to do each of those matched to a need that would be met by the trampling. Living in a situation where each person is his or her own moral agent means some people will do bad, selfish, foolish, self-destructive, other-destructive things. It’s who we are.

    3
  66. Gustopher says:

    @Mimai:

    Here’s what I’ve come up with: torture, death penalty, preventive detention, extrajudicial killings.

    I want them to get vaccinated too, but I’m not sure I would sanction torture, the death penalty or extrajudicial killings to take care of the problem. Preventive detention has some precedent though and we could probably make the camps humane.

    1
  67. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    What if only one person were threatened?

    “You all get the vaccination rate up to 95%, or Trump gets it!”

    1
  68. Mimai says:

    @Gustopher:

    Your cleverness makes me red hot with rage! YMMV

    2
  69. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    Mimai appears terribly bloodthirsty for someone who’s grossly offended by a description of someone who’s been professionally diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic as a paranoid schizophrenic.

    2
  70. Kathy says:

    While there remains a lot to find out about COVID and the virus that causes it*, there is one thing we know with absolute certainty: when we lower our guard, this thing goes to town on us. We saw it during the big re-opening craze last summer, and amid the “Screw it! It’s the f**g holidays!” last fall and winter.

    As recently as last week, despite a rather slow rate of vaccination, Mexico City and the metro area went to “green” in the risk traffic light system. This meant some restrictions on capacity and what could open and for how long were lifted. What happened is that people flocked to popular shopping areas, restaurants, etc., schools reopened for in person classes, and mask use in public went down.

    Naturally cases went up, and the City and the State of Mexico governments had to dial up the risk back to “yellow.”

    * One thing I’d love to know is what the incidence of asymptomatic cases was. Antibody tests were never very popular, or apparently very accurate. With so many people vaccinated, and therefore with antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, I wonder if we can tell at all.

    1
  71. Mimai says:

    @CSK:

    Haha! Bloodthirsty and grossly offended indeed. Now and forevermore.

    3
  72. flat earth luddite says:

    @MarkedMan:

    …basically washed their hands of an affected group

    Well, unfortunately for the affected group, I view this as “bite me once, shame on you; bite me twice, shame on me.” PH workers, like most of us, eventually get tired of beating their heads against a rock. I wish people were smart enough, but as Cracker and others frequently comment, it appears that better/smarter people are currently on back order from the factory…

    5
  73. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    There was a lot of bad messaging, but I think there was a good faith effort at the CDC to shift from containment through lockdown to containment through vaccination

    I don’t think there was very much bad messaging at all. I think there was a lot of bad messages that had to be delivered and the CDC and FDA were the poor souls who had to deliver them. A lot of the belly-aching about messaging really came down to demanding the Feds hide things from people, or violate policies developed over decades to keeping people safe from political interference in the approval and regulation of drugs. People couldn’t seem to see that the same policies and laws that kept Trump from overruling the agencies and declaring hydrochloroquine the only drug needed were the exact same policies that kept Biden from overruling them – and that is a good thing.

    As for the “shift”, there was no shift. There was a frantic leap. In the beginning the plans developed at every level called for changing policies gradually based on infection rate, hospitalization rate, death rate and the efficacy of containment and contact tracing. But CDC recognized reality. Republicans are actively campaigning against sanity, and demonizing Public Health officials all over the country, literally driving mobs of crazed gun nuts to surround some poor city health planners home and scream at them all night long. I figure the CDC determined that with that being the state of play there was no hope for a more sensible plan, especially since it could end up with the people they were trying to protect turning out with pitchforks and hanging them from the nearest street lamp. Given the incredible good news about the efficacy of vaccination, they tossed all those plans aside and said “Hey! Get Vaccinated!!!: and then in an undertone, “andofcourseifyoudon’twearamask-as if you would…”

    2
  74. MarkedMan says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    PH workers, like most of us, eventually get tired of beating their heads against a rock.

    I am obviously completely failing in getting my point across. I know a lot of Public Health professionals. My wife has spent her whole career in Public Health. They normally DON’T get tired of beating their head against a rock. You would. I would. But they have carefully catalogued and studied all the phases of a public campaign and to them the “beating their head against the rock phase” is just a type 4A-3 response and the 27 different ways to get past it can be found in thus-and-such paper from 1972. I met one of the Public Health professionals who spent his whole career taking on the entire tobacco industry from a tiny office in Tulane School of Public Health, and he (and a whole bunch of other people like him) WON!! These are not the type of people who give up because some members of the public are jackasses that want to keep smoking and believe the nonsense Phillip Morris peddles.

    The only difference I can see is that Phillip Morris never armed their self-harming customers with assault rifles and gave them the addresses of the public health officials.

    1
  75. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    Mimai appears terribly bloodthirsty for someone who’s grossly offended by a description of someone who’s been professionally diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic as a paranoid schizophrenic.

    Then you better watch your step, I guess. Otherwise, I would hate to think about what might happen to you.

  76. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: I’m not positive, but I think the raw materials from which better people are made at the factory come from the same area where you grow your fwks.

    1
  77. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    Well, I’m fully vaxxed, so I should be able to escape his ire.

  78. Pete S says:

    @Kathy: I would disagree with that. A lot of the covidiots seem perfectly happy to take their kids out with them, thus eliminating themselves from the gene pool after the fact. That is like retroactive Darwinism

  79. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Ha! Behold, the field wherein I grow my fucks! Feast thy eyes upon it and see that it is barren! 😛

    A friend of mine gave me a tea towel with that cross-stitched on it for Christmas. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.

    2
  80. Jax says:

    @Pete S: My cousin is an anti-vaxxer. She, herself, is fully vaccinated, no side effects her whole damn life….but “she’s just not sure we need all this extra stuff put in our bodies”, so none of her kids are vaccinated. Way to throw them to the wolves. 😐 “I got mine, efffffff you, kids!!!”

    1
  81. Mimai says:

    @CSK:
    @Gustopher:

    Re my grossly offended and bloodthirsty nature, would this make me a millennial or Gen Z vampire? Surely not a zombie, right? Must know such things – these blood pearls aren’t going to clutch themselves.

    3