WASHINGTON — Since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago, Republican state lawmakers have undermined mitigation efforts, mocked science, and enacted policies that made this outbreak worse. But their pro-covid crusade hit new lows over the last few weeks as the delta variant surged across the country. As cases and hospitalizations in infants and young adults spike across the country, Republican state lawmakers are pursuing policies to cut off funding for school districts that put public safety measures into place.
“Children aren’t safe while Republicans are in charge,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “Republican officials have undermined public health measures at every turn. The GOP has only doubled-down on their anti-vaccination conspiracies, despite clear evidence that this new surge of cases is impacting children at higher rates. Republicans are more interested in threatening local governments and school districts than protecting the health of our families and neighbors.”
Republicans have continued to spread vaccine and mask misinformation, amplify conspiracy theories that endanger the health of their constituents, and sabotage public health efforts to get COVID under control. Since the vaccine was first approved, more than 20 Republican-led states have enacted bans against proof-of-vaccination through both executive and legislative action.
Below is a roundup of just some of the latest Republican attacks on public health:
- Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey spread COVID misinformation during a televised interview by claiming that vaccines are the cause of the spike in COVID variants, natural immunity from COVID lasts forever, and that mask mandates in schools are “the dumbest thing.”
- In Tennessee, vaccination outreach to adolescents was halted due to pressure from the Republican legislature.
- Legislators in Florida and Texas enacted similar bills banning vaccine passports, including in private businesses.
- In Ohio, the legislature invited anti-vaccination activists to testify while also pushing a bill that forbids “virtually everybody,” including schools and hospitals, from requiring any vaccination.
- In Montana, the GOP-led legislature passed a bill prohibiting employers from requiring their employees to disclose their vaccination status.
- In Arizona, the legislature passed a bill banning schools from mandating masks, with Republican Senator Paul Boyer stating that: “No kid should be traumatized by having to wear a mask if they don’t want to.”
- Oklahoma’s GOP-led legislature passed a bill preventing schools from requiring students be vaccinated against COVID and from requiring non-vaccinated students to wear masks.