Vaccine hesitancy among Republicans is a real thing and a potential stumbling block to herd immunity, but c’mon. What sort of reaction did a reporter from CNN of all places except to get when he wandered into a red-state diner with a camera crew in tow and gut-checked them on a question like this?
Which self-respecting Trump voter, knowing which answer CNN deems to be “correct,” would happily provide that answer for the camera? Especially with a crowd of peers looking on?
But I suppose CNN expected that, which is why they arranged this segment. The point was to show red-staters as anti-vax yokels and they figured that a vaguely hostile confrontation between their reporter and local residents would encourage a sense of defiance in those being questioned. Watch, then read on.
The line about not trusting Trump reminded me of what Frank Luntz learned from his focus group with vax-skeptical righties. He also asked if Trump’s endorsement of the vaccine would sway them and found to his surprise that it didn’t matter much. Information about the vaccine from doctors proved to be more persuasive, and there seems to be potential for that in CNN’s clip too. The one guy who fears getting COVID from the vaccine (on the theory that, uh, sometimes people who get the flu shot still get the flu) could conceivably be disabused of that fear.
Watching this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Oklahoma is hopelessly backward and behind the national pace on getting people vaccinated. (Certainly that’s what CNN would want you to conclude.) It isn’t. Fully 25 percent of Oklahomans have received at least one dose and 13 percent have received their second. The former number is good for 13th among the 50 states and the latter is good for 14th. Oklahoma’s ahead of Florida in both categories. That could change, of course: It may be that they’re breezing through the pro-vax segment of the population and will hit a harder wall among anti-vaxxers than most other states will, slowing down the effort to reach herd immunity in the next couple of months. But for now, they’re acing their test. And they’ve got their pandemic under control too:
They seven-day average of new cases in Oklahoma this past week was the lowest since July 2020.
If CNN wants to worry about COVID somewhere, may I suggest the former home of our “liberal New Yorker” ex-president?
Cuomo is saying it's safe to reopen and go to ballgames because New York's pandemic numbers are looking so good.
That's not how it looks to me.
New York's infection rate is the second-highest in the country, behind only New Jersey — and it has been flat for the past month. pic.twitter.com/mTBRS2lqLa
— Bill Hammond (@NYHammond) March 18, 2021
Here's the NYC hospitalization trend from the state "early warning dashboard."
The current number is about 10 times higher than it was last summer, when crowds were *not* allowed at ballparks, and it looks like it might be plateauing.https://t.co/EnfAsEYaiy pic.twitter.com/1T8QI8cexz
— Bill Hammond (@NYHammond) March 18, 2021
BREAKING: NYC Health Dept has released updated data on variants.
Portion of new cases caused by…
* B.1.526 (NYC): 45.1%
* B.1.1.7 (UK): 17.6%
* B.1.429/7 (CA): 2.4%
In total 65.1% of new cases in most recent week are caused by variants, up from 52.4% in prior week.
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) March 17, 2021
I wrote a few days ago about the worrying spread of the “New York variant.” It seems to be spreading even faster now. Some scientists are sufficiently concerned about it that they’re “rooting” for the British variant to spread more widely before the NYC variant can, as the latter resembles the more vaccine-resistant South African strain of the virus:
We're at the point in the pandemic where we are rooting for the B117 variant to take hold, not the other ones.
Pay attention to this – has serious implications for policies around masking and distancing and opening up. https://t.co/ou2AMvkbdw
— Walid Gellad, MD MPH (@walidgellad) March 18, 2021
Of course, the British variant has its problems too. Namely, it may be very slowly seeding a new national wave:
Not a surprise
B.1.1.7 — probably represents about 40% of infections in US today
Means about 20,000 infections identified today were likely from B.1.1.7
It will become the dominant variant in next couple of weeks
So what's the problem? Look at Europe
— Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@ashishkjha) March 18, 2021
The fact that we’re steaming ahead with vaccinations means we should be able to prevent another dire country-wide outbreak. And as Ed said earlier, having already vaccinated so many older and vulnerable people means the U.S. should see fewer hospitalizations even if we do endure a “fourth wave.” But Jha thinks we’re opening things up too quickly given the uncertainty of the current moment, especially with the emergence of the New York variant. Maybe CNN should send a camera crew to NYC and ask people dining indoors there why they’re taking needless risks knowing that a scary new strain of the virus is circulating in their city. Don’t they care about the rest of us?