Paul Krugman: 'Responsible' Americans who take basic COVID precautions are  understandably fed up with those who don’t

Paul Krugman: 'Responsible' Americans who take basic COVID precautions are  understandably fed up with those who don’t

During the COVID-19 pandemic, an abundance of MAGA Republicans have done everything they can to make the crisis worse — from railing against vaccines, protective masks and social distancing precautions to downplaying the pandemic’s severity. Liberal economist and New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman, in his February 7 column, stresses that Americans who have behaved “responsibly” during the pandemic have grown understandably frustrated with those who haven’t.

“Unfortunately, U.S. standards are pretty bad,” Krugman laments. “America has done a very poor job of dealing with COVID. We’ve had more deaths, as a percentage of the population, than any other large, wealthy nation, with the disparity even wider during the Omicron wave than it was before. Why? Because so many Americans haven’t behaved responsibly.”

Krugman continues, “And I know I’m not alone in feeling angry about this irresponsibility, which has been encouraged by politicians and other public figures. There are surely many Americans feeling a simmering rage against the minority that has placed the rest of us at risk and degraded the quality of our nation’s life.”

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, more than 5.7 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide — and over 906,000 of them died in the United States. At this point, most of the Americans who are dying from COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“There has been remarkably little polling on how Americans who are acting responsibly view those who aren’t — the posturing and occasional violence of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers get all the headlines — but the available surveys suggest that during the Delta wave, a majority of vaccinated Americans were frustrated or angry with the unvaccinated,” Krugman explains. “I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers grew under Omicron, so that Americans fed up with their compatriots who won’t do the right thing are now a silent majority.”

Krugman argues that anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers have made the pandemic worse than it has to be in the United States.

“Those who refuse to take basic COVID precautions are, at best, being selfish — ignoring the welfare and comfort of their fellow citizens,” Krugman writes. “At worst, they’re engaged in deliberate aggression — putting others at risk to make a point. And the fact that some of the people around us are deliberately putting others at risk takes its own psychological toll. Tell me that it doesn’t bother you when the person sitting across the aisle or standing behind you in the checkout line ostentatiously goes maskless or keeps his or her mask pulled down.”

Krugman adds, “Much of this behavior is political. Republicans, fed a steady diet of misinformation by partisan media — did I mention that Fox News has required its employees to disclose their vaccination status since last summer? — are four times as likely as Democrats to be unvaccinated, and far less likely to wear masks when grocery shopping. So, America’s bad pandemic largely reflects a bet on the part of right-wing politicians and opinion leaders that they can reap benefits by making basic public health precautions part of the culture war.”

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