One of my favorite bumper stickers– and a personal philosophy - says If at first you don’t succeed – blame whoever ain’t here.
That seems to be the motto of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican leaders when it comes to the resurgence of covid-19 and its variant strains.
The re-emergence of a new strain of the disease that a few short months ago seemed en route to eradication couldn’t possibly have anything to do with their refusal to follow CDC guidelines and implement mask mandates or encourage people to get vaccinated, could it?
Not to hear them tell it.
DeSantis and others are instead blaming the surge on immigrants crossing over into America on our southern border.
“Why don’t you get this border secure?” DeSantis snapped at President Biden in a recent speech when Biden told Republican governors to implement mask mandates or at least get out of the way of institutions that want to impose them.
“Until you do that,” DeSantis declaimed, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”
Such political posturing may score points with his base, but it’ll do nothing to save Floridians’ lives.
Of course, after the governor essentially told Biden to put a sock in it, the Florida Department of Health reportedly asked the federal government for hundreds of ventilators - to help save Florida residents he, himself, was willing to sacrifice to make a political point.
Not only has De-Money refused to mandate masks, but he has vowed to cut funds to school districts that try to do so. In other words, "we’re not going to help you, and we’re not going to allow you to help yourselves.”
Freedom, he says. “We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state,” he said in a head-scratcher of a statement.
How bad are things under DeSantis?
There was a headline in the satirical newspaper The Onion that read DeSantis Threatens To Cut Hospital Funding If Surgeons Continue To Wear Masks. As absurd as that sounds, you actually had to look it up to make sure it was just a joke: he has promised to withhold pay from educators who wear them.
Spouting non sequiturs and casting blame elsewhere may be the only arrows in his quiver when you consider that Florida accounts 6.5 percent of the U.S. population but, according to the CDC, accounts for 22 percent of new covid cases.
The state has had nearly 20,000 new hospital admissions related to the virus each day for the past week and 56,000 new cases over two days.
On top of the re-emerging virus is a nationwide shortage in registered nurses to care for the patients occupying hospital beds.
Nope. Many experts see a link between the virus, which has killed more than 600,000 people in America in a little over a year and a half, and the nursing shortage. They say an aging workforce is one reason for the shortage, but the main reason is nurse burnout from pandemic duties. It’s not hard to imagine that caring for people to whom you can offer little but a tender smile would cause burnout, would cause you to look elsewhere for a better-paying, less stressful job.
This shortage, years in the making, is becoming more pronounced right now as hospital admissions and deaths increased by 40 percent nationally in the past week, according to the CDC.
In a Washington Post story, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients pointed to seven southern states — Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi — as accounting for about half of all new infections and hospitalizations over the past week, even as these states represent less than a quarter of the American population.
Having cynical politicians attempting to sow suspicion of government vaccination efforts – N.C.’s own state Rep. Madison Cawthorn is a leader in that dubious effort - or to diminish the importance of vaccines and masks certainly can’t help the mood of nurses or those interested in a healthcare career.
A buddy of mine, a true patriot and USMC vet - I call him Gen. Gomer - offered this suggestion which I, also a patriot, am glad to pass along to DeSantis and De-whomever: instead of demonizing immigrants trying to enter the country, why not – get this - train them to become CNAs or nurses so they can help treat the people infected by the virus?
Indeed, and he said he’ll share his Nobel Prize loot with me.