One of Joe Biden’s more admirable goals upon assuming the presidency was his hope to get the country over the hill and coasting toward pre-pandemic normalcy by July 4. He failed – because of his false assumption that everyone in the country shared the goal of community health and well-being.

          Instead, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, neighbor-haters and the assortment of crazies now dominating the Republican party relentlessly fought to abet sickness, sorrow and death, allowing COVID-19 to increase its presence into a more virulent Delta variant, which is now shifting into even worse descendants.

          While gathered in the ICU waiting rooms or seated before loved one’s caskets, are these folks congratulating themselves on thwarting Biden, common sense and common decency?

          One sensible Republican, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, told Martha Raddatz of ABC News that, “Because the red states probably have a lot of people that, you know, are very, very conservative in their thinking and they think, ‘Well, I don’t have to do that.’

          “But they’re not thinking right,” he added, likening them to playing a “death lottery.”

          And many of them are losing:

          • “U.S. COVID deaths are rising again. Experts call it a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated” – NPR, July 16.

          • “Unvaxed Trump supporter who spread coronavirus conspiracy theories dies of COVID-19” – Daily Kos, July 20.

          • “Republicans freak out because the delta variant they fostered is killing … Republicans” – Daily Kos, July 21.

          • “Man who made fun of vaccination efforts on social media dies of COVID” NBC, July 24.

          • “‘Stop it!’: Tennessee pastor threatens to oust members wearing masks” – KFOR (OKC), July 27.

          • “Mom’s warning to other parents after daughter returns home from church camp with COVID-19” – KWTV (OKC), July 27.

          • “Republican governor won’t make push for COVID-19 shots but does pay farmers to vaccinate their cows” – Daily Kos, Aug. 3.

          • Evangelical preacher Rev. Wade Morris died from COVID-19 this week after speaking at an Oklahoma Christian camp where an outbreak of the deadly virus has occurred” – Raw Story, Aug. 4.

          • “Republican congressman who filed a lawsuit over masks last week tests positive for COVID this week” – Daily Kos, Aug. 6.

          • “Texas GOP official who supported burning masks dies of COVID-19 – Politcus USA, Aug. 6.

          • “’We’re in the middle of a bed crisis,’ Some Oklahoma patients die waiting for room, others sent to neighboring states as COVID-19 surge maxes out hospital bed capacity” – KFOR, Aug. 8.

          • “Ex-Newsmax host who attacked ‘lying freak’ Dr. Fauci over ‘Scandemic’ had died of COVID. Get vaccinated, Dick Farrel told friends before he died” Huffington Post, Aug. 9.

          • “GOP governors are now at risk of becoming the faces of deadly COVID Delta surge: report” – Raw Story, Aug. 11.

          • “’Your child will wait for another child to die.’ Amid Covid-19 surge, Dallas County has no pediatric ICU beds left, county judge says” – CNN, Aug. 13.

          • “Conservative vaccine skeptic Cardinal Burke on ventilator after contracting COVID-19” – Daily Kos, Aug. 16.

          • “Mississippi 8th grader dies with COVID hours after Gov. Reeves downplays child cases” – Mississippi Free Press, Aug. 14.

          • “A shot would have saved him,’ Family grieves after father who called vaccine a government conspiracy dies of COVID-19” – KFOR, Aug. 16.

          • “Radio Host Who Spread Vaccine Disinformation Dies of COVID” – Daily Kos, Aug. 17.

          These instances represent only a small sampling of similar stories I’ve collected over the past few months.

          The evidence is overwhelming. COVID-19 is real and deadly, and Republican governors, following in the footsteps of their twice-impeached party leader, have done everything they could to help it spread.

          Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt (hamstringing schools’ efforts to protect students while abandoning constituents up Stitt’s Creek to cavort with Azerbaijan’s Christian-killing dictator) and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem (welcoming a second Sturgis super-spreader) are fighting hard for the Veep spot on the 2024 ballot, but they pale in comparison to Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida.

          Then, Abbot was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week after being one of the first people in his state to get a booster shot. He was immediately given Regeneron treatment even though it is supposed to be given to people who have shown systems – which he had not. Four days later, he tested negative. So, who, ill because of his non-leadership, got bumped from the treatment line so his sorry, super-spreading self could get preferential treatment?

          Sort of reminds you of the guy who lied about the coronavirus being over in about a week more than a year-and-a-half ago. When that blowhard contracted the virus, he got round-the-clock treatment at Walter Reed Hospital – instead of the malaria drug (which Stitt spent $2 million on) or the bleach infusions or flashlights invading bodily orifices that he had promoted.

          And, speaking of Regeneron and DeSantis, last week, Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press informed us, “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who has been criticized for opposing mask mandates and vaccine passports — is now touting a COVID-19 antibody treatment in which a top donor’s company has invested millions of dollars.

          “DeSantis has been flying around the state promoting a monoclonal antibody treatment sold by Regeneron, which was used on then-President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19. The governor first began talking about it as a treatment last year.

          “Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc., according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis — $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.”

          So, not only has DeSantis declared Floridians pawns to his political agenda, he is using them as cannon fodder to line the pockets of a pal who has been shoveling money his way.

          Seems we have an explanation for the Aug. 1 headline from Daily Kos: “Ron DeSantis is leading Florida into utter destruction while COVID-19 cases spike to record level.”

          The more people get sick, the more Regeneron is used. The more money Regeneron makes, the happier the governor’s top donor will be. Casualties are collateral damage when the goal is maximum profits, not community safety.

          And Republicans have the gall to say that common sense health precautions are politicizing the pandemic?

          My Republican neighbors, your leaders are trying to kill you. Wake up! Get vaccinated to protect yourself. Wear a mask to protect others as well.

          Snap out of it!

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Republicans, snap out of it!

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