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The South is about to be swamped with COVID-19 patients because GOP governors listened to Trump: columnist

Group of people holding Confederate flags (via Creative Commons)

With COVID-19 hot spots "erupting across the South," one New York Times columnist warned on Saturday why things are going to get worse.


Margaret Renkl "covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South" for the newspaper's opinion section.

Renkl noted that Nashville's efforts to close down were hampered by Republican Gov. Bill Lee's inaction.

"Even after the Nashville Board of Health voted unanimously to shut the honky-tonks down, several bar owners said they would not comply unless ordered to do so by the governor of Tennessee," she noted.

"Such orders have been slow in coming here, and in nearly every other state in the American South. Tennessee governor Bill Lee was slow to end the legislative session and send members of the Tennessee General Assembly home to their districts, slow to close public schools, slow to suspend church services, slow to shutter restaurants and gyms," she explained.

Renkl explained why coronavirus has become a partisan touchstone in the South.

"Viruses are not partisan. Science itself is not partisan. Nevertheless, Covid-19 has become a partisan issue here in the South because our governors have followed the lead of both the president, who spent crucial early weeks denying the severity of the crisis, and Fox News, which downplayed concerns about the pandemic as Democratic hysteria. That’s why every governor who has issued a deeply belated shelter-in-place order is a Republican," she explained.

Read the full column.

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