Over the past few weeks, Europe has experienced a second wave of the COVID-19 virus. Government leaders are initiating mask mandates, ordering people to shelter in place again, closing virus-spreading gathering spots and preparing second and third rounds of fiscal relief for their citizens.

          In the U.S., where we are still riding high on our first wave of infections, a Republican president and his party – who consider people “human stock capital” – have made a health issue into a political football. Protecting our neighbors’ lives has been branded a sign of weakness, even disloyalty to the would-be dictator seen over the weekend being driven past a crowd of admirers waving from his car as if the Queen of England.

          The virus surge in Europe has reduced the U.S. share of COVID-19 cases and deaths from 20 percent of the world’s totals to only 19 percent six weeks later – for a country that represents only 4.2 percent of the world population.

          Maybe that’s what Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar meant Friday when he offered this: “Thank you, Mr. President, for providing the leadership that’s gotten us where we are today.”

          This was on the fourth straight day of shattering infection records, with the Washington Post reporting: “Eighteen states, most of them in the Midwest, have reported record numbers of hospitalizations, a ‘catastrophic’ surge that experts say is rooted in distrust of the government.”

          That story was reported Sunday on Common Dreams, which also noted, “Ire for Trump after 130 Secret Service agents reportedly infected or under COVID-19 quarantine.”

          That report led Public Citizen to remark, “He cares about no one. Not a soul.”

          Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded, “”GOP doesn’t even care for the lives of the people protecting theirs.”

          “Thank you, Mr. President, for providing the leadership that’s gotten us where we are today.”

          Sunday’s Huffington Post revealed who the GOP does care about, with a story from Minnesota about members of the Republican Senate caucus who were warned that fellow Republicans had tested positive – but they did not send a similar heads-up to Democratic colleagues.

          Those Minnesota Republicans were just following their president.  Another HuffPost story reported: “Trump says COVID-19 vaccine could arrive by April but not for New York.”

          Ooh, he’ll teach them to close down his fake university and fake charity.

          As Trump, his family and our own Gov. Stitt have shown, denying and lying about the virus is not vaccine in itself. Again it was Huffington Post noting, “Alaska congressman who mocked coronavirus as ‘beer Virus’ now infected.

          “I call it the beer virus. How do you like that?” Republican Rep. Don Young said in March.

          So, it is no surprise that Trump’s refusal to concede his crushing Electoral College defeat includes dire health consequences.

          Sunday, NBC News headlines included: “Incoming Biden chief of staff warns transition delay puts vaccine distribution at risk.”

          Also, “(Dr. Anthony)Fauci says delayed transition is a public health issue as Covid-19 cases soar nationwide.”

          Again from NBC: “COVID kills 4-year-old boy’s mom and dad in San Antonio.”

          That story includes, “Just this morning he told me that he wishes he had his mom back and he just wanted her back,” Raiden Gonzalez’s grandmother said. “I just told him that they’re now angels watching over us.”

          “Thank you, Mr. President, for providing the leadership that’s gotten us where we are today.”

          One more from NBC Sunday, “As COVID cases soar, GOP state lawmakers keep fighting to limit governors’ power to respond.”

          And, over the weekend, a Trump adviser was urging people in Michigan to “rise up” against measures that might save their lives.

          Folks, this isn’t a political issue. It’s a health crisis with lives at stake.

          And, in Oklahoma, where the same lack of failureship exists?

          According to The Oklahoman: “Doctors plead for Oklahomans to wear mask; governor won’t require it” and, “Pressure on hospitals intensifies as OKC reaches Tier 3 of COVID-19 surge plan.”

          OKC’s KFOR-TV reported, “Nearly a dozen Oklahoma school districts decided to switch to 100 percent virtual learning Friday after over half of the state’s counties transitioned to the red zone on the State Department of Education’s COVID-19 Alert Map.

          “’I think sending them to school was one of the worst decisions because I knew this was going to happen in the end,’ OKC parent Sandra Zamora said.”

          From Tulsa, The World reported, “’We’re not in a good place’”: 22 Tulsa County ZIP codes in severe COVID-19 category.”

          CBS News Sunday had a story headlined, “ICU nurse who treats COVID-19 patients: ‘It’s hard to watch someone struggling to breathe and see the regret that they have.’

          “A traveling ICU nurse who has been treating COVID-19 patients said she often sees ‘regret’ from her patients for not taking action to prevent contracting the virus. Lydia Mobley, who is a traveling nurse with Fastaff, which is deploying nurses across the country, told CBSN’s Lana Zak that ‘a common thing we hear is they didn’t think coronavirus was real, they didn’t think it was serious.’”

          That’s what you get when you trust people who consider you expendable.

          “Thank you, Mr. President, for providing the leadership that’s gotten us where we are today.”

          Initially, people were encouraged to wear masks to protect others from infection. Last week, it was revealed, logically, that the masks protect the wearers as well.

          But, make no bones about it, people not wearing masks don’t give a hoot who lives or die. (How is that a point of pride?) I guess I missed that Sunday School lesson though I did pick up a few attendance pins along the way.

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)

COVID-19 reality trumps delusions

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