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Dec-13-2021 14:49printcomments

Trump's Role in Vaccination Resistance

Believers of false statements "are highest among unvaccinated adults, Republicans, and those living in rural areas."

Super spreader
Billboard in Macon, GA (Image from WGXA)

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA.) - Persons in a position of power can sway public opinion and even action, resulting in undesired effects. From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., Trump and the Trumpified GOP have publicly minimized its seriousness with dire consequences.

Since February 2020, Trump has declared at least 38 times that COVID-19 is either going to disappear or is currently disappearing.

For example, on Jan. 22, 2020, he was asked by a reporter if there were any worries about the pandemic, Trump replied, “No not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it totally under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

And at a White House meeting on February 27, he said, “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

Trump contracted COVID-19; it was so serious that officials thought he would need a ventilator.

After his hospitalization, he appeared on the White House balcony, ripped off his mask and while gasping for breath, proclaimed the virus is nothing to fear.

While president, Trump was rarely seen wearing a mask. He has held many rallies before and after the election where mask wearing and social distancing were not practiced. Trump became a virus superspreader.

Two days before Trump was tested positive for COVID-19, Trump ridiculed Biden for wearing a mask saying, "I don't wear face masks like him.”

Incredibly, at a White House briefing on April 23, 2020, Trump encouraged his top health officials to study the injection of bleach into the human body as a means of fighting the virus. He also proposed irradiating patients' bodies with UV light.

From March 1 to April 30, 2020, he made 11 tweets about unproven therapies and mentioned these therapies 65 times in White House briefings, especially touting hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

These tweets had an impression, reaching 300% above his average. Following these tweets, at least 2% of airtime on conservative networks for treatment modalities like azithromycin and continuous mentions of such treatments were observed on stations like Fox News.

Google searches and purchases increased following his first press conference on March 19, 2020, and increased again following his tweets on March 21, 2020.

The same is true for medications on Amazon, with purchases for medicine substitutes, such as hydroxychloroquine, increasing by 200%. Studies show hydroxychloroquine does not have clinical benefits in treating COVID-19.

Trump’s assertions about unproven therapies was the impetus for others to market dubious COVID-19 treatments like Ivermectin, a horse dewormer, and eating Black Oxygen Organics, or “BOO” for short advertised as “magic dirt” or literally dirt sold for $110 for a 4-1/2 oz. bag.

Trump and many of his Republican colleagues have allowed a virulent anti-vaccine/anti-masking/anti-social distancing campaign to spread among their voters, reinforced by Fox News.

The campaign gained strength just in time for the emergence of a new and more contagious COVID variant: the Delta variant. Now Omicron has arrived.

Polling has shown that the anti-vaccine message is especially popular among Republicans. Kaiser Family Foundation data (KFF data) indicates that one-third of adults (32%) say they have heard at least four false statements about COVID-19 and believe them to be true or are uncertain if they’re true or false.

The shares who believe a large number of false statements "are highest among unvaccinated adults, Republicans, and those living in rural areas."

It is not surprising that (KFF data) indicates "unvaccinated adults are more than three times as likely to lean Republican than Democratic... and political partisanship is a stronger predictor of whether someone is vaccinated than demographic factors such as age, race, level of education, or insurance status.”

And Republicans are the group most likely to say they will “definitely not” get a vaccine: Republicans make up an increasingly disproportionate share of those who remain unvaccinated.

It is not coincidental that Trump won 17 of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates. While the top 22 states (including D.C.) with the highest adult vaccination rates all went to Biden.

The Lancet study concluded that as of February 4, 40% of the U.S.’s roughly 450,000 coronavirus deaths could have been avoided but for the Trump administration’s inept response to the pandemic.

Finally, KFF data indicates that support for the federal mandate to vaccinate or face weekly testing is supported by 86% of Democrats and opposed by 79% of Republicans.

It is not surprising then that on Dec. 9, 2021, the Senate passed a Republican measure that would overturn President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses, with two Democrats (Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) joining 50 Republicans to pass the initiative.

The House is unlikely to pass the measure and if it did, President Biden said he would likely veto the measure.

The measure underscores the intense political opposition facing administration efforts to combat COVID-19 at a time when health officials are trying to contain the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Why such legislation? Because mandates work. Looking ahead to the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election, Trump and the Trumpified GOP do not want the Biden presidency to succeed.

As we approach the second year of the coronavirus epidemic, the U.S. is nearing 800,000 deaths with only 60.8% of Americans fully vaccinated.

Would the pandemic be just an unpleasant memory if Trump and the Trumpified GOP had not made fighting the pandemic a partisan issue?

My wife and I have been vaccinated. Biden and Trump have been vaccinated. Have you?

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