Wednesday evening I heard on the radio that our Great Leader, Governor Kim Reynolds was concerned that Iowans were getting the Covid-19 vaccines at a slower pace than they were in previous weeks. Stories in the Des Moines Register and the Iowa Capital Dispatch conformed the story.
Reynolds seemed to be a bit surprised that demand for vaccinations have slowed down. This is where we both kind of chuckled. Reynolds has spent much of the last year downplaying the effects of the corona virus and making decisions such as stopping mask mandates in cities and counties that made it pretty clear that she was in line with the national Republicans who saw the virus as anything from a mild flu to a hoax.
“Vaccine hesitancy is starting to become a real factor across the country,” Reynolds said. The seeds for such hesitancy were planted months, maybe even a year ago when governors like Reynolds, Noem in South Dakota, Burgum in North Dakota and Pete Ricketts in Nebraska refused to combat the virus with the seriousness it deserved.
Of course they were all following the lead of the former guy, Donald “it’s only bad in blue states so it can help us win the election” Trump. During the spring and summer last year Reynolds seemed pretty much lost as deaths in nursing homes mounted.
And amidst all this, Americans and Iowans were and still are being fed a steady daily diet from Fox News, One America News and right wing talk radio telling all who would listen that the corona virus is way overhyped, not as deadly as reported and yes, even a hoax.
Thus during one of the worst pandemics in modern history, half of America’s population takes in a daily dose of lies and uses them to make what are life and death decisions. Unfortunately such decisions affect not only just themselves, but also everybody else. Since these people remain unvaccinated, they remain a possible host for the virus and possibly a place where the virus can mutate to degree that it is not affected by the vaccines.
Thanks to Reynolds, Trump, Tucker Carlson the “hesitant” have lots of words and deeds that back up their hesitancy. Add in a very rare problem that has linked both the J&J vaccine and the Astra-Zeneca problem to blood clots in extremely rare cases plus a “dirty” third party manufacturer of the J&J vaccine and you have the kind of info that can make the hesitant solid NOs for a vaccine.
Just for kickers let’s throw in a cadre of evangelical preachers who are generally anti-corona virus vaccine for who knows what reason. Add it all up and you get estimates of around 25% that are definitely currently refusing to get vaccinated and another 10 to 15 % that are wavering.
Iowa’s percentages last I saw appear to be near the that of the US as a whole. If Reynolds is serious about getting Iowans to get vaccinated, it may be time for her to do something unprecedented for a Republican. She should admit that some of the decisions she made early on were not the best at the time, that she underestimated the seriousness of the virus.
Then she should be reaching out to every local newspaper, radio and TV station to make a personal appeal. She should also get with as many low level influencers such as church leaders and try to persuade them to push their congregations or whatever group they lead to tell their followers to get vaxxed and soon. Finally, get buy in from business leaders who should see public health as good business.
Well, that is my dream world.
My sense of reality tells me that Reynolds will continue to bob along, not leading but following whatever the national Republican Party grasps as their latest approach to the virus. In short expect little. Expect Iowa’s vaccinations to level off well below the so-called herd immunity threshold. Thus we will all remain subject to mutations of the virus. As we have all seen, it is quite adept at mutating.
And Kim Reynolds will run on her “leadership” during the pandemic, where her leadership consisted of pandering to the Trump wing of her party.
In the priority list I am sure that getting reelected far outweighs doing the best for Iowa’s public health.