COVID-19 is on its way to becoming a predominantly Republican disease

COVID-19 is on its way to becoming a predominantly Republican disease

Vying for least surprising news of the day are two extremely unsurprising news stories, both about the pandemic. Try to contain your non-surprise, please, no matter how difficult it may get.

The first story is from The Washington Post, and uses data to again confirm the bloomin' obvious: States with high vaccination rates are now seeing fewer COVID-19 cases, while places with lower vaccinates are seeing pandemic infections "holding steady or increasing."

Yep. The vaccines are working—but only among the people that actually, you know, get them. The Post was able to determine that in counties with at least 40% of residents vaccinated, COVID-19 infection rates that were "low" and "going down." In counties with fewer than 20% of residents vaccinated, "not only are there higher case rates, but the number of cases there also is growing."

In the second story, we see the predictable effects of the first. From NBC we learn that people coming into local hospitals with severe COVID-19 symptoms are almost all Americans who haven't been vaccinated, from unvaccinated adults to children too young to be eligible for any of the current vaccines. So-called "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals are both rare and seldom require hospital treatment—except among immunosuppressed patients, for whom vaccines not may generate sufficient or long-lasting immune response.

From this, we can deduce several things. If you're vaccinated, you have very low odds of contracting COVID-19 and very low odds of it becoming severe enough to require emergency medical care. If you're not vaccinated, you're either just as likely or more likely to catch COVID-19 right now as you were through much of the rest of the pandemic.

And if you do get it, you're going to be the vector by which other Americans get sick and possibly die. The virus is spreading among children because children can't get the vaccine yet. The virus is killing immunocompromised patients because people who haven't been vaccinated are spreading it to them.

Once again, then, we're seeing the predicted real-world results from a buffoonish and incompetent Dear Leader figure attempting to pretend his way out of a world health crisis while stoking paranoia about actual health professionals and safety measures. We previously learned that masks have indeed been working quite well at stopping pandemic spread, thus turning Donald Trump's anti-mask fetishes into another way for his party to kill off its own voters.

The COVID-19 pandemic is getting closer and closer to becoming a primarily Republican disease in this country. It can never be a fully Republican disease because the virus does not verify voting status, when traveling from one person's cough to the next person's lungs. But in places with high vaccination rates, herd immunity may soon come close to eradicating the virus by giving it few places to viably spread.

In pockets of vaccine resistance, meanwhile, whether it be Q-styled conspiracists, avid Trump supporters who still believe the pandemic is a hoax, or deplorables whose principle objection to getting vaccinated is that it appears to be what the liberals and book-learners want them to do, Americans are going to continue to die.

There's still good news even in those pockets, however. The good news is that every percentage of vaccinated adults translates to fewer hospital services needed in an area, even in deep-red communities, so local hospitals will be far less susceptible to becoming overwhelmed this fall than during the pandemic's first year. There will be plenty of ventilators and oxygen, and if there is not then there will still be more resources to take patients out from Republican-dominated locales and drive them to places that have the pandemic better under control.

That's assuming a lot, though. A complicating factor here may well be the "delta" virus variant, the virus mutation that first took hold in India and is now threatening to become the dominant strain elsewhere. It seems 10% of all U.S. COVID cases are now of the delta variant, and it is expected to become the majority strain "at some point." Delta appears to be both more contagious and more deadly than other strains, making herd immunity a more challenging bar to reach.

It's these mutations that continue to threaten a full unraveling of all pandemic progress made so far. The longer the virus is allowed to stew inside unvaccinated populations, the more genetic variants will be naturally produced; the more produced, the more likely it becomes that any one of them will be able to evade current vaccines and reinfect even the vaccinated. The virus may this summer be reduced to a predominantly Republican illness, but it's not assured to stay that way.

So we know the vaccines work. We know masks work. We know social distancing works. We know even if the vaccines let an infection through, it will almost never require hospital intervention. And we know that it's unvaccinated people who will be letting the virus spread despite all that.

What's next, then? It's unclear. I still say that if we can convince Republican-leaning communities that "antifa" is trying to keep the vaccine from them, flag-waving patriots will be demanding to be needle stuck ten, twenty, or thirty times. You'll have Greg Abbott supporters hoarding spare vaccine in their cheeks like squirrels.

It's either that plan or darting people from helicopters, and ... oof. You may say that's a dumb idea, but it still beats nine tenths of what the Trump team came up with.

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