Don’t bother vaccinating your kids against COVID, even though the CDC says it’s a good idea. Quit fussing; they’ll be fine. Dr. Joseph Ladapo promises.
You don’t have to wear that mask, either. Dr. Ladapo says it’s a lie that they save lives, and that doctors who believe otherwise are “zombies.” That was his actual word.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his recently confirmed surgeon general know they are a lot smarter than all those epidemiologists, virologists, cardiologists and pulmonary specialists at the Centers for Disease Control and state and local public-health officials. They are the heroes of the narrative they’ve created and they are ready to deliver the
message with lights, cameras and snappy catchphrases.
DeSantis has picked up the phrase “COVID Theater” and is using it a lot lately. It’s an odd choice coming from the office that has stage-managed a public health crisis into a series of sound bites and rants about freedom and jobs.
Monday’s 90-minute roundtable to announce the anti-vax position for kids took things to a whole new level. Shot in a studio, it featured a large table with DeSantis flanked, Last-Supper-style, by a cast of six COVID skeptics. Behind them, a giant, curved video screen displayed more than 200 individual (people pictured on) video feeds. According to the Tampa Bay Times, many of them were state employees, presumably getting paid to serve as living wallpaper. The screen would occasionally be taken over by the giant heads of more “experts,” including some of the nation’s most notorious anti-mask, anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine advocates.
All this time and money – taxpayers’ time and money – was devoted to delivering one message: Parents don’t need to vaccinate healthy children against COVID. But there was an insidious, ridiculous subtext that the bulk of the last two years has been an elaborate illusion crafted to make people afraid.
It’s a sharp contrast to the message being put out by the nation’s medical community. After two years of trying to predict an ever-shifting pandemic, health leaders are wearily gathering around this consensus: They are not really sure what’s coming next. COVID could be mostly gone by the end of the year. The highly infectious omicron variant could continue to infect people. Or we could see yet another variant – possibly even more contagious, or more debilitating, or more fatal. Which option is most likely? They don’t know.
All they can do is recommend the safest decisions, with the most medical support. And that means vaccination, for kids as young as 5. It’s true that children don’t catch COVID easily– at least, not the current variant. It’s also true that vaccines aren’t providing protection for as long as some people thought. Florida has dropped from its 60,000-plus peak of daily new infections to a still-grim 1,800. But COVID is still a threat, and about 170 people die every day. Kids are still getting infected as well. The vaccine reduces children’s chance of getting COVID significantly – up to 91 percent – and it lessens symptoms and duration. If another nasty variant emerges, it could save lives.
That doesn’t seem to move Ladapo or his boss DeSantis, who seems more concerned with coming up with new ways to make “Fauci” into a verb and yelling at high school students to take off their masks. They’ve co-opted a dangerous, highly infectious disease into a political stunt. And now they’re urging parents to ignore the best available protections for their children.
If this is a play, DeSantis is the one writing the script, seemingly blind to the reality that he’s directing a farce.