“After many months of zero or few pediatric COVID cases, we are seeing infants, children, and teens with COVID pouring back into the hospital, more and more each day,” she told the Washington Post.
As of Thursday, a Post analysis found 1,785 children with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases had been hospitalized nationwide. But Florida was setting the pace for child hospitalizations, with 247 children admitted last week—a rate of 35 new admissions a day.
On Friday, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare confirmed its first death for a child younger than 5 due to COVID-19. As of that morning, the hospital said five children were hospitalized there, one of them under 5 and four of them older than 12.
Children are already swamping hospitals in certain states, some are dying, and more are going to die because Republican politicians are more concerned about their political futures than they are about public safety and protecting the nation’s most vulnerable. Last year, as the pandemic took hold in the U.S., Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested that elderly Americans would be willing to sacrifice their lives to bring the country out of a lockdown. Now Texas Republicans are ordering kids—many of whom are still defenseless against the virus—to bear the burden of getting the country back to business as usual.
And clearly, a radicalized GOP base is fired up over the matter. Earlier this week, vehement anti-mask activists in a suburb of Nashville jeered at mask advocates following a 7-3 vote by the Williamson County school board to reinstate mask mandates for elementary schools.
“We know who you are. And we will find you!” an enraged anti-masker threatened, as one mask proponent tried to pull out of the parking lot. A heavy police presence managed to keep the peace, but one doctor and mother of four kids who attend the county’s schools was caught off guard.
“It was hard to fathom,” said Dr. Meredith Duke, a surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who attended the meeting with her son. “There were people screaming and threatening me, and I just couldn’t believe it,” she added.
By Friday, the Vanderbilt University hospital Duke works at—arguably the most important medical facility in the state—reported being “completely full” for adults, though its children’s hospital still had limited capacity.
Dallas County’s Judge Jenkins has also been targeted by raging anti-maskers. Jenkins, who won both a temporary restraining order and an appeal against Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide ban on mask mandates, signed an emergency order this week requiring universal masking in all of the county’s public schools.
“There’s a couple hundred people every night outside of my house screaming curse words at my children,” he said.
Despite the unhinged outcry about masking, multiple recent polls have found majority public support for different types of masking and vaccination mandates.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 64% support for local governments requiring employees at local offices to mask, while 29% oppose it. The measure was strongly supported by 42% versus just 18% who strongly opposed it.
Similarly, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 63% support for requiring unvaccinated students and staff to wear masks in schools, with just 36% opposing it. While 69% of Republicans rejected such a mandate, 88% of Democrats and 66% of independents supported it.
A Fox News poll also found majority support, 54%, for allowing school districts to require teachers and students to either wear masks or else provide proof of vaccination.
Why Republican voters want people to die—kids especially—is unfathomable. The vitriol, the venom, feels practically psychotic.
It’s loud and disturbing, but it’s also coming from a minority of Americans who clearly think they’re in charge of the country and are hellbent on bending it to their will by any means possible. They are a danger to governance in this country, and that’s apparently part of the point.
There’s a price of admission for participating in society. You pay taxes, stop at “Stop” signs, prove your children are vaccinated for certain illnesses before sending them to school. The imposed rules and regulations are intended to keep the community safe, orderly, and mostly peaceful. But much of the radicalized GOP base no longer buys into that tradeoff. For them, unfettered individual liberty is their absolute right and if civil society must be destroyed in its pursuit, then so be it. No price is too high to pay—not even the lives of children.