Conservatives like me groaned on Tuesday when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course and suggested fully vaccinated people should wear masks in certain indoor settings, including areas with “high transmission” rates of the virus.
A week and a half earlier, Los Angeles County reinstated an indoor mask mandate for public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is reportedly mulling whether to implement the CDC’s guidance throughout the city.
All this is a haymaker for Republicans who, after more than a year of slogging through onerous restrictions and watching liberal leaders clamp down unnecessarily hard on religious worship, will find a new wave of Democratic control repulsive.
But, there’s a way to strike back: Get vaccinated.
The shots reduce the spread of the virus and, more importantly, are highly effective in guarding against death. When enough people are inoculated, the virus peters out, which would strip any public health mandate of its usefulness, forcing liberal policymakers to concede.
If nothing else, those conservatives who want to “own the libs” have a clear way to thwart the proposals of Democrats in power.
They also have a chance to needle, pun intended, Donald Trump’s detractors. President Joe Biden would love to claim credit for a successful vaccination program, but he shouldn’t forget the drugs were developed under the watch of his predecessor. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said as much while on the campaign trail in Arkansas earlier this week:
“Condescending politicians and bureaucrats,” she said, “misjudged the Trump vaccine plan, which rolled out just as safely, quickly, and effectively as the Trump administration promised.”
Trump, too, received the vaccine. “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly,” he said on Fox News.
Following the lead of Sanders and Trump by receiving the shot would vindicate the efforts of their administration and take the wind out of the sails of Democrats who use low vaccination rates as a chance to pounce on Republicans.
Democrats are responding to a very real threat. Case counts of COVID-19 are surging, and as public health officials have put it, this is now a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” But their policy decisions have hardly been narrowly tailored or even in many circumstances successful.
What has worked? The vaccine.
Of the 130 people in Maryland who died from COVID-19 in the month of June, not a single one was vaccinated, according to reports. In the month before, 99.2% of all COVID-19 deaths in the country were among the unvaccinated, an analysis shows.
The numbers overwhelmingly indicate the vaccination programs are effective. Even with so-called “breakthrough” cases among the inoculated population, vaccines have proven to dramatically reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms or death.
In the end, Democratic institutions are trying to do the right thing, only they’re doing it in a way that makes conservatives queasy. Calling them out is just a jab or two away.
Christian Sagers is an assistant editor of Deseret News national voices.