CNN at Oklahoma diner: Show of hands, who here is willing to get the vaccine?

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?

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:

Of course, the British variant has its problems too. Namely, it may be very slowly seeding a new national wave:

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?