There is a strange phenomenon underway, one that will surely generate a lot of inside-out headlines on Politico and be marked on Fox News by its absence. That phenomenon? States like Texas and Florida, where Republican governors have gone out of their way to prevent schools and local governments from requiring vaccines, masks, or tests, have—in a way that absolutely no one could have predicted—become hotbeds of infection.
Right now, most maps of the nation show Florida as the kind of unnaturally colored, heavily-infected appendage that can only be dealt with by amputation. Texas is more mottled, with only most of its many counties glowing at the blood-red maximum of community transmission. Even so, the hospitals in several areas are seeing a surge of new patients. So much so that, on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that was finally compelled to “take action to mitigate” increasing COVID-19 cases in Texas.
Is Abbott reducing the risk by allowing schools or local governments to institute mask mandates? No. Is he going to require vaccination before people can engage in the kind of activities most likely to spread the diseases? Not at all.