'Because we're a strong conservative family': A dad with Covid regrets the reason he didn't get vaccinated

'Because we're a strong conservative family': A dad with Covid regrets the reason he didn't get vaccinated

As the United States suffers another COVID-19 surge driven by the Delta variant, doctors are seeing a troubling pattern in some deep-red states: low vaccination rates combined with a lot of hospitalizations and serious infections. One such red state is Missouri. In an article published by the Associated Press this week, reporters Sarah Blake Morgan and Jim Salter examine the battle against COVID-19 that is taking place in a Missouri hospital — where, they note, some right-wing anti-vaxxers have been fighting for their lives.

Missouri, at this point, is even redder than Texas. While former President Donald Trump defeated now-President Joe Biden by 6% in the Lone Star State, he won Missouri by 15%. And Missouri has a low vaccination rate. According to the Mayo Clinic, only 48% of Missouri residents have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 — compared to 72% in Massachusetts, 75% in Vermont or 69% in Connecticut. Massachusetts and Vermont are blue states with Republican governors, but Massachusetts' Charlie Baker and Vermont's Phil Scott (who voted for Biden in 2020) are moderate Republicans rather than far-right MAGA Republicans.

Missouri, on the other hand, is a hotbed of MAGA activity and anti-vaxxer attitudes. One Missouri resident who was an anti-vaxxer before he became seriously ill with COVID-19 is Daryl Barker.

Morgan and Salter report, "Daryl Barker was passionately against a COVID-19 vaccination, and so were his relatives. Then ten of them got sick, and Barker, at just 31, ended up in a Missouri intensive care unit fighting for his life. It's a scenario playing out time and again at Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach, where 22 people died from the virus in the first 23 days of July. Many other hospitals across Missouri are fighting the same battle, the result of the fast-spreading Delta variant invading a state with one of the nation's lowest vaccination rates, especially in rural areas."

Barker told AP, "I was strongly against getting the vaccine. Just because we're a strong conservative family." Barker spelled it out, making it clear that he equated conservatism with an anti-vaxxer viewpoint.

COVID-19 surge evident inside Missouri hospital youtu.be

Barker's son can only visit him on the other side of the hospital window, for fear of spreading the virus.

Morgan and Salter explain, "In the U.S., many people who identify as politically and socially conservative have been more reluctant to be vaccinated — so much so that in Missouri, faith leaders have joined the effort to encourage shots. Meanwhile, the summer outbreak is so alarming that Democratic-led St. Louis city and county and Kansas City have reinstated mask mandates."

The AP reporters note that in Missouri "hospitalizations for COVID-19 have more than doubled since the start of June, and the number of ICU patients has more than tripled."

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