In Florida, the weekly number of reported new Covid cases was almost 24,000 as September began, up from 7,320 in June. The state, which leads the nation in Covid hospitalization rates, saw 2,280 people hospitalized in the week ending September 9. Its overall pandemic death toll is now over 90,000.
Despite these numbers, DeSantis is backing his surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who is warning Floridians to steer clear of the new Covid vaccines. In a demonstration of loyalty to his boss worthy of the most servile of Trump flunkies, Ladapo claims, falsely, that the new boosters were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both DeSantis and Ladapo are Harvard alums. That means that they are either (1) consummate liars willing to subjugate the lives and health of their citizens to their political ambitions, or (2) that Harvard should be bounced from the Ivy League.
This anti-vaccine lunacy is nothing new for Ladapo. He once claimed that a healthy diet is preferable to getting vaccinated. He has been censured by both the FDA and CDC for harming public safety by “fueling vaccine hesitancy.” Ladapo was forcibly removed from a state senator’s office during the pandemic for refusing to wear a mask despite the senator’s having a serious medical condition.
Aspiring authoritarian DeSantis accuses Big Pharma and the government of being guilty of “medical authoritarianism” in pushing vaccines on an unsuspecting public. Pot, meet kettle. He goes on to tout Florida’s freedom from vaccine mandates. He says that, if elected president (good luck with that!), he won’t allow the government to fund Covid boosters.
Given the resurgence of the virus in Florida and nationally, reckless claims such as this mean that Floridians and others who lend credence to these untruths are putting themselves at risk. Undeterred, DeSantis continues to double down on his “advice,” adding to it a polemic against mask mandates and other Covid safety measures.
As with virtually everything else intended to harm the public in the name of so-called “freedom,” all of this extreme right-wing hogwash, humbuggery, hokum and hooey finds its origins in Trumpism, the ideology that says that the pursuit of power justifies any means of securing it. Of course, it helps that millions of voters have been conditioned by Fox News and its malevolent right-wing media spawn to accept as gospel the garbage they gush.
It’s also incredibly dangerous for society at large. Covid anti-vaccine hysteria is spilling over into vaccinations writ large. The number of children being protected against childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio et al. is steadily declining.
Moreover, the “freedom” that DeSantis, Dr. Ladapo and their reactionary fellow-travelers espouse neither include a woman’s right to sovereignty over her own body nor transgender care. In April 2023, DeSantis signed a 6-week abortion ban with very limited exceptions: Abortions for pregnancies involving rape or incest would be allowed until 15 weeks of pregnancy, provided a woman has documentation such as a restraining order or police report!
DeSantis himself disclosed last year that he has been vaccinated. However, he refuses to say if he has been boosted.
It is a sad commentary on the direction of this country that the Republican Party has substituted lies, hypocrisy, rank opportunism and a yearning for autocracy for honesty, patriotism and democracy. The only solution to this metastasizing cancer on the body politic is at the ballot box. Otherwise, the harm these despicable creatures are doing will only escalate.
September 24, 2023
Note: If you want to attend my book talk about Eminent Riaprians: Finger Lakes Luminaries and Leading Lights, at 6:00 PM, Monday, September 25th at the Wood Library in Canandaigua, NY, click on https://woodlibrary.librarycalendar.com/event/book-talk-local-author-richard-hermann to register for the program