As unlikely as it may seem for such a puffy, prickly, unpleasant person to pull off, Ron DeSantis has created a cult-like following among the local MAGAs by outflanking his mentor Trump on COVID-19 denial and anti-mitigation measure demagoguery. That’s not DeSantis’s only shtick — he has also made it harder to vote, is attempting to dilute black Floridians’ political power, demonizes LGBTQ kids and adults, and intimidates public school teachers and administrators at every level.
That’s all standard red state stuff these days. But pandemic-related demagoguery is DeSantis’s signature flex, and by refashioning himself as the anti-Fauci, he has vaulted to the pole position for GOP 2024: The Race to the Bottom. So it must be kind of alarming for him to see the latest virus variant receding and the CDC and blue state governors rolling back mitigation measures.
“Our schools are open!” isn’t much of a boast when 99% of schools nationwide are open. The dumb screeching about the FREEEE state of Florida sounds even stupider when people in blue states are going about their business. Maybe a desire to revive the COVID wars is behind the latest pronouncement from the quack DeSantis imported from California to serve as the state’s surgeon general? Or maybe Ron DeSantis just hates kids? It would be irresponsible NOT to speculate. From the Tampa Bay Times:
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Health is poised to officially recommend against giving coronavirus vaccines to healthy children.
Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo made the pronouncement at a Monday roundtable discussion on coronavirus mitigations policies convened by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Ladapo, who leads Florida’s Department of Health, said his department’s recommendation would be the first of its kind in the country.
It came after a 90-minute discussion from medical experts skeptical of the benefits of various coronavirus mitigation measures such as vaccine mandates, mask requirements and business closures.
The article notes that more than 800K Florida kids under the age of 16 have contracted COVID-19, and 42 died. As we all know, the virus is much more dangerous for older people than it is for children. But while crackpots like Lapado focus on potential side effects from the vaccines (and masks!), they don’t talk about the possibility of long-term effects of the virus.
A recent study referenced in a CNN opinion piece from infectious disease expert Dr. Kent Sepkowitz of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center suggests those long-term effects could be significant, adding new urgency to the push to get the world vaccinated:
Compared with those who were never infected, people who had a coronavirus infection were more likely to have symptoms including inflammatory heart disease, heart failure, dysrhythmia, heart attacks, strokes and clotting in the long term. People with prior Covid-19 infections were more than 60% more likely to develop any cardiac issue. Many of these conditions, such as pulmonary embolisms, are life-threatening.
One of the researchers said the risk is elevated regardless of the severity of the COVID infection. I’m not a Harvard-trained doctor like Ladapo, but that suggests to me that the prudent thing to do from a public health perspective is to limit COVID infections across the board when we can, including in children, who mostly develop mild cases.
Dr. Sepkowitz emphasized that it’s just one study. He noted that it focused on patients infected with the variant that was predominant a year ago, so we don’t know if more recent variants have the same effect. He also noted that we don’t know how long these effects last. He doesn’t say, but I assume since the research used VA data on veterans, the study participants were adults. We don’t know if the disease affects kids the same way. There’s so much we still don’t know.
And that’s why Lapado’s recommendation is so profoundly irresponsible. We know this: vaccines are the best protection we have right now against the virus. Even if it turns out kids aren’t susceptible to post-COVID cardiac issues, if they’re unvaccinated, they are more likely to spread the virus to adults who are at an elevated risk. And failing to vaccinate kids leaves children open to picking up more lethal variants that may develop as long as there’s a large pool of unvaccinated people to serve as Darwin’s sandbox.
In his quest to inherit Trumpdom, DeSantis has gambled with our lives repeatedly. This latest gambit is especially vile, and after his bullying behavior last week toward high school students, I think it’s fair to conclude DeSantis just hates kids.
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