Imagine that Covid-19 was so eager to infect as many people as possible that it hired its own lobby group. Then imagine that dangerous contagion lobbyists, eager to help their clients infect as many people as possible, begin to pressure politicians on what to say and do about public health policy.
In this fascinating hypothesis, we can imagine what the politicians will be told to say and do by the covid lobbyists. Officials are encouraged to reject the findings of public health officials and question, among other things, the effectiveness of vaccines.
Or put another way, if Covid-19 can hire its own lobbying group, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his latest announcement will be happy. According to NBC News:
A roundtable of Covid vaccine skeptics and opponents, including his own surgeon, has publicly asked the state Supreme Court to investigate whether drug companies have criminally misled Floridians about the vaccines’ side effects. with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Miami Herald report added that the Republican governor is creating a new public health committee, which will include fringe members who will apparently be responsible for opposing CDC and FDA policy recommendations.
If Covid could feel emotions, it would probably be happy.
Not too long ago, the line from DeSantis and his allies was to defy government orders. He wasn’t anti-science or anti-vaccine, the argument continued, the governor simply wanted people to make their own choices rather than Uncle Sam’s heavy-handed requirements.
That argument has obviously run its course. The Florida Republican’s move yesterday appears designed to undermine public confidence not only in public health professionals, but in vaccines themselves.
The result is a public health disaster: As the holidays approach, it’s important to encourage Americans in positions of power to do their part. A new study yesterday morning found that Covid vaccines have saved more than 3 million lives in the United States, and common-sense governors are using this opportunity to remind their citizens of the importance of Americans protecting themselves and those around them.
But, just hours after that research was released, DeSantis ran the show dangerously wrong.
It’s hard to predict how many Floridians will suffer as a result of the governor’s gambit, but it’s far from certain that the total will be much higher.
Adding insult to injury – in this instance, literally – there is a clear political dimension to all of this.
DeSantis’ right-wing stance on Covid — including the appointment of a radical state surgeon general derided as a “Covid crank,” his condemnation of Dr. Anthony Fauci, his campaigns against teachers and businesses, and his refusal to uphold CDC recommendations. Children, etc. – made him a hero for many right. Indeed, despite Donald Trump’s fear of using the word “vaccination” around his followers, the right-wing governor of Florida has positioned himself to the right of the former president.
The public health damage will be indisputable, but DeSantis’ national ambitions may be higher — and it’s a trade Republicans are happy to accept.