Vaccine frustration grows across the country between advocates of vaccination and doubters. The CDC has now stepped backward to say everyone needs a mask. Political psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi, Ph.D. join ABC affiliate in Flordia to discuss.
Every since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) first appeared in the U.S. there has been fierce debate on how to best handle it. Democrats were quick to line up with scientists and medical experts to support stay-at-home orders, masks, and social distancing. Republicans choose to downplay its severity and argue for personal freedoms.
Then-President Trump kept assuring everyone that the pandemic was ‘under control’ and would soon pass, and continued that narrative throughout 2020. He shifted from ‘it is behind us, to ‘we’ve turned the corner’. Then in the late fall and early winter of 2020, the third wave of the pandemic spiked to new highs resulting in 400,000 deaths.
Today there are 600,000 deaths and we seem to have entered a new phase remnant of 2020: an ardent group of people (and politicians) that lash out against medical guidelines, claiming freedoms as their reasoning. They complain of (A) being tired of the preventative measures, and (B) s an infringement on their personal freedoms. At the same time, data suggests that it is their refusal to follow guidelines that perpetuate the virus and make these measures necessary.
The pushback to getting vaccinated is particularly puzzling. It was developed under — and funded by — the Trump administration, and Trump and his family have all received the vaccine. Yet his followers, who believe everything he says, have latched onto the rhetoric that the Biden administration shouldn’t be trusted.
In early 2021 as the Biden administration developed and implemented a national rollout of the vaccine, there was cause for optimism. As many as 4 million people a day were being vaccinated, and the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths dropped significantly. By May 2021 there was optimism that Biden could reach his goals for the summer.
At the same time, the virus mutated and the Delta variant was beginning to spread — it is much more transmissible than the original strain of the virus.
Then vaccinations hit a wall: a large swath of America refused to get the vaccine, and now the Delta variant case count, hospitalizations, and deaths have begun to rise across the country. Republican politicians — such as Gaoetz, Greene, Bobert, and others — are chanting about freedoms — Bobert exclaiming “Don’t bring your ouchy Fauci to our door” –, yet none of those politicians will reveal whether they themselves have gotten the vaccine. Conservative media has railed against the vaccine, engaging in conspiratorial narratives, and constantly asking whether the vaccine is safe while casting doubt with every sentence. Among those is Tucker Carlson (who got a lot of backlash for suggesting having children wear masks is akin to child abuse, as well as Laura Ingharam.
Recently, however, there has been a shift in the GOP. Minority leader McConnel has advocated for people to get vaccinated; conservative media commentator Sean Hannity has advocated for vaccination (after all last year downplaying the seriousness of the virus), as well as others.
But one of the highest-profile GOP politicians, Governor Ron DeSantis, has gone out of his way to block any attempts to follow CDC guidelines in his state of Florida. He has made it illegal for the cruise lines, for example, to require vaccination before boarding for a cruise.
According to CNN 100% of Democrat lawmakers, has have been vaccinated, whereas Republican lawmakers are only about 50% vaccinated. Across the country, vaccination seems to also seem to follow political lines, with the majority of Democrats vaccinated, and Republicans less so. In Alabama, only about 34% have been vaccinated. Nationwide, 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated. That is significantly below the threshold of herd immunity.
Everyone is no doubt tired of the pandemic, and the medical guidelines to combat it. The CDC has urged kids to mask up as they are ready to return to school. Go DeSantis, as shown in the video, again is pushing back.
In This Episode
Dr. Rossi discusses the psychology of the pandemic in general, vaccination and masking in particular.