Washington (AP) – Every third corona infection in the US is currently reported from just two states, but Republicans in Florida and Texas are protesting masks and corona rules.
Although intensive care units in hospitals are filling up, governors are issuing orders banning all types of masks in schools, for example. They also fight against mandatory vaccination and instead campaign for the freedom of citizens to make their own decisions. US President Joe Biden’s tone towards the two states is sharpening given the contamination situation.
The coronavirus wave fueled by the Delta variant has Florida firmly under control: Every fourth patient currently admitted to the US as a patient for an infection with the virus is in a hospital in the state – even though only seven are in the US. Florida Percentage of US population alive. Almost every fifth corona test is positive. On average, the state with its 21 million inhabitants reports about 18,000 new infections per day – the number at the peak of the pandemic in January, when hardly anyone was vaccinated.
Mask requirement for children is “child abuse”
But Florida governor Ron DeSantis rejects new corona demands. When the CDC recently announced that schoolchildren must again wear face masks because of the Delta variant, the Republican protested. “Forcing children to wear masks is bad policy,” he said. This decision should be left to the parents. Biden’s policy would lead to a “biomedical security state,” DeSantis warned. On Twitter, he shared the statement of a psychiatrist who said during a hearing: “Forcing masks on children is child abuse.”
DeSantis then tightened an order last week banning schools from ordering masks to be worn. In the event of non-compliance, state funds will be withdrawn. In addition to the warm weather driving people to air-conditioned rooms, Governor Bidens reportedly blames lax policies on the border with Mexico for the rise in corona infections. DeSantis said he had “imported more virus from around the world through the open southern border”. However, Florida’s major cities are nearly 2,000 miles from the Texas border.
Clear words from Biden
Democrat Biden made it clear who he blames for the situation. Some governors are unwilling to do the right thing to fight the pandemic, he said recently, specifically mentioning Texas and Florida. “If you don’t help, at least avoid people who are trying to do the right thing,” Biden demanded. “Use your power to save lives.” Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki told DeSantis that it is a fact that he “has taken steps contrary to health recommendations.”
Washington is also concerned about Texas, with a population of nearly 30 million: the number of new infections there has increased rapidly recently and now averages around 11,000 per day. But Governor Greg Abbott signed a new order last week to avoid corona restrictions and masking requirements. The Republican accused the government of planning “even more draconian controls on American citizens”. “We must rely on individual responsibility, not government procurement. Texans will decide for themselves whether to wear masks and open their stores.”
Vaccinations are always voluntary in Texas, Abbott said. The state is lagging behind in vaccination coverage, with nearly 44 percent of the population fully vaccinated in Texas, 49 percent in Florida, and about 50 percent nationwide.
The number of new infections per day will soon rise to 100,000
The delta variant has now led to a drastic increase in new infections throughout the country with its 330 million inhabitants. Their numbers have skyrocketed from about 10,000 a day in June to an average of nearly 90,000. The number of deaths reported daily has increased by nearly 40 percent on a weekly basis to 381 deaths per day. CDC chief Rochelle Walensky warned that if unvaccinated people don’t get vaccinated and people don’t wear masks, there could soon be several hundred thousand infections per day in the United States.
The government is particularly concerned about countries in the south where the vaccination campaign has recently stalled. “States with the lowest vaccination rates accounted for about half of new infections and hospitalizations last week, even though they only make up a quarter of the U.S. population,” said Jeffrey Ziens, the White House Corona coordinator. For example, in Louisiana and Arkansas, only 37 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, compared to 50 percent nationwide. In Mississippi, that’s just 35 percent.
In response to the wave of new infections, some governors began to reconsider. The rather conservative Democrat John Bel Edwards in Louisiana said Monday that given the “exponential growth” of infections through September, masking would apply again. In Arkansas, Republican Asa Hutchinson admitted he regretted signing the mask bill in April. He then convened parliament for a special session to allow a mask requirement for schools. He emphasized that especially children under the age of twelve who could not be vaccinated, need protection.