HAWES COLUMN: GOP tries delicate balance on COVID | Opinion

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In a recent speech, parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy berated President Joe Biden for failing to keep his promise to bring the pandemic under control.

“I took President Biden at his word,” he said. “I took him at his word when he said he was going to get COVID under control. Sadly, more people have died this year than last year from COVID. “

McCarthy didn’t mention, of course, that it was mainly members of his own party who stood in the way of making this promise come true.

A survey in mid-September found that 90% of adults who identify as Democrats had been vaccinated compared to 58% of adults who identify as Republicans.

This division has caused Republican politicians across the country to engage in a delicate balancing act.

On the one hand, many are calling on voters to follow public health recommendations and get vaccinated. On the flip side, some of those same politicians are actively fighting the administration’s efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Take the president’s vaccine warrant.

The ordinance requires companies with at least 100 employees to offer workers the choice: to get vaccinated or to start following more stringent protocols, including weekly testing to make sure they are not infected with COVID. 19.

The only way for employees to escape the warrant is to obtain medical or religious relief.

The mandate is now suspended following more than two dozen lawsuits, many of which were filed by Republican officials.

Critics see it as a fight for individual freedom. They believe the mandate violates their right to control their own bodies.

The Biden administration characterizes it as a workplace safety issue. He argues that employers have an obligation to do what they can to stop the spread of COVID-19.

A three-judge panel of the US Fifth Court of Appeals ruled that the mandate was “fatally flawed” and “considerably too broad”, raising “serious constitutional concerns”. In response to a federal government motion, all cases were consolidated in the Sixth Circuit, but no matter what that court ultimately decides, observers predict the matter will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its own court record, the Biden administration says the delays cost “tens, if not hundreds, of lives a day.”

Among those who have filed briefs in support of the government’s position is the American Medical Association, which maintains that COVID-19 represents a “grave danger” which has “wreaked havoc in communities across the country. country”.

The United States has recorded at least 48 million cases and more than 775,000 deaths. Americans are dying at a rate of nearly 1,500 a day.

WADA argues in its brief that vaccines are the most effective way to protect workers from infection.

“The more workers vaccinated, the closer we come to slowing the spread of the virus and creating a safer environment,” the association told the court.

In a less cynical world, Americans of all political stripes would join hands to face a common enemy. Unfortunately, we don’t live in this world.

Minority Leader spokesman Matt Sparks told the New York Times he saw no conflict between fighting vaccination mandates and blaming the Biden administration for the spread of the virus. He mentioned the administration’s failure to exempt anyone who has already contracted the virus from the mandate of vaccination on the basis of natural immunity.

“The lack of recognition of this fact further erodes public confidence in the vaccine and our public health officials,” he said.

Never mind that a study in Kentucky found that those who had this “natural immunity” were even more than twice as likely to contract the virus as those who were fully immune.

Such facts don’t matter to guys like McCarthy. For them, it is about winning the next election.

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be contacted at [email protected] Find him on Twitter @Kelly_Hawes.


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