Fever pitch: five US states spiralling from variant surge

With strengthening of anti-vaccination movement and widespread misinformation, Americans are being infected in record numbers

It turns out that the Delta variant is not the only thing causing a surge in American suffering. From stabbings to bad information from cable news shows, take a closer look at five US states and how some government officials and residents are reacting to the pandemic.

Mississippi

Mississippi’s healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. Hospitals are so full that patients are being treated in makeshift centres, one in a parking structure and the other on a blacktop parking pad.

On August 12, despite the vaccine being available to all residents, the state broke its one-day Covid-19 infection rate with 1,490 people admitted to hospital, of whom 388 were in intensive care.

Also reported were 4,412 new cases, with 97 per cent of infections among the unvaccinated, the state health department said. In July, there were 13 hospitals with no intensive care beds.

Now, 70 per cent of calls to poison control are related to the ingestion of a drug known as ivermectin, following three Fox News hosts saying it curbed Covid-19 symptoms.

The drug is used to deworm livestock and claims that it protected users from the virus prompted a tweet from the US Food and Drug Administration that read: “You are not a horse … Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

Texas

Texas ranks second in US population and in the top 10 for coronavirus infections. There is no law to enforce masks. Six days ago, Texas had its worst surge in cases to date.

On Fox News, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick blamed the state’s hospital admission and death rates from Covid-19 on unvaccinated black people.

Mr Patrick was addressing the state’s latest coronavirus surge, which has led to a 24 per cent increase in daily cases over the past two weeks.

“The biggest group in most states are African Americans who have not been vaccinated,” Mr Patrick said. “The last time I checked, over 90 per cent of them vote for Democrats.”

Despite being condemned for making “prejudiced, inflammatory comments”, he doubled down in a statement that said: “Democratic social media trolls were up late misstating the facts.”

The most recent US census data shows that 78 per cent of Texans identify as white and 12 per cent as black. Mr Patrick then tripled down and said that Democrats needed to take care of their own.

Alabama

The state famous for its university football team is also ranking in the top five for Covid-19 deaths per capita, prompting Republican Governor Kay Ivey to blame the deaths on the unvaccinated.

On average, 28 people a day are dying from the virus and still only 36 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Even former president and coronavirus survivor Donald Trump was booed by his own supporters, mostly without masks, for recommending they take the vaccine during a rally on Sunday.

The event was hosted on his website and by the small town of Cullen, which recently reported its highest infection numbers to date.

“I believe totally in your freedoms. I do,” Mr Trump told the crowd. “You’ve got to do what you have to do. “But I recommend: take the vaccines. I did it. It’s good. Take the vaccines.”

Tennessee

This southern state is reporting its highest numbers to date with teenagers disproportionately affected. Researchers with Vanderbilt's MicroBiome Centre say it “underscores that severe Covid-19 can and does afflict anyone”.

Children returned to classrooms this month and protests erupted when a school board voted in favour of a mask mandate for elementary school pupils.

Outside the meeting, demonstrators began to heckle and threaten people as they were leaving the special session.

“We know you,” one screamed at a driver in a video that quickly spread online. “You’ll never be allowed to walk in public again.”

Another said: “You can live freely but we will find you.”

California

California has a reputation for being laid-back, the home of surfers and starlets. It is gaining new notoriety for violent anti-vaccination, or "anti-vaxx", rallies and recalling a popular governor.

The recall vote takes place on September 14 and is a result of a Republican-circulated petition lambasting Gavin Newsom's stringent Covid protocols.

Daily Covid-19 cases in California hit a new high for the summer, with 14,716 reported on August 20.

Mr Newsom has signed 58 executive orders since the start of the pandemic and California became the first state requiring all K-12 teachers to be fully vaccinated or undergo weekly tests.

On August 15, protesters staged a rally outside Los Angeles City Hall, where one man was stabbed and a journalist was attacked.

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez denounced the violence.

“Not wearing a mask and being anti-vaxx isn’t patriotism, it’s stupidity,” Ms Martinez tweeted after the incident.

“Attacking counter-protesters and journalists has no place in a democracy and certainly no place in Los Angeles.”

The tweet has since been deleted.

Updated: August 24th 2021, 4:52 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS