Demand for the shots has nearly quadrupled in recent weeks in Louisiana, a promising glimmer that the deadly reality of the virus might be breaking through a logjam of misunderstanding and misinformation.
The new push for vaccinations has been driven by an explosion in coronavirus cases. But it takes time for vaccines to bolster immune systems, and the state — which now leads the country in new cases — could still be weeks away from relief.
Hospitals are overflowing with more Covid-19 patients than ever before. Even children’s hospitals have packed intensive care units. And the Delta variant has alarmed doctors, who described seeing patients in their 20s and 30s rapidly declining and dying.
“These are the darkest days of our pandemic,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, the chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
The Delta variant has unleashed a rush of diagnoses across the United States, but Louisiana has emerged as a troublesome hot spot, with the highest per capita rate of cases in the country and a beleaguered health care system straining to keep up.
“That’s a miserable place to be, I know it,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said, describing the swirl of frustration and shame expressed by government officials, epidemiologists and frontline medical workers as their state suffers the catastrophic consequences of a failure to vaccinate more people.
The state is averaging more than 4,300 new cases per day, according to New York Times data. Resources have been taxed — especially in the state’s southeastern corner — as cases have surged from the Gulf Coast into the northern reaches of the state.
In Baton Rouge, one hospital called in the kind of federal emergency support staff usually reserved for the aftermath of a hurricane. In Hammond, a city of some 21,000 people in the toe of Louisiana’s boot, nurses were ordered to pick up extra shifts.
Vaccination rates are increasing in many states, as employers and universities have started requiring the shots to return to work and class. In the Southeast, where vaccinations have lagged behind the national rate, those upticks have come in states like Mississippi and Florida just as reported cases began spiking.
In an effort to help temper the spread of the virus in Louisiana while pushing for more vaccinations, Governor Edwards reinstated a statewide mask mandate that went into effect on Wednesday, requiring anyone 5 or older to cover their face indoors.
But the governor’s orders have produced fierce resistance from the outset of the pandemic. On Monday, exasperation bled into his voice as he urged residents to heed the mask order and listen to the parade of doctors and hospital officials he had summoned to describe the growing crisis.
“Do you give a damn?” Mr. Edwards asked. “I hope you do. I do. I’ve heard it said often: Louisiana is the most pro-life state in the nation. I want to believe that.”
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to talk about anything else other than his plummeting approval ratings and rising delta variant COVID cases, the worst in the nation by far, by pretending the real issue is President Biden's "failure" on "illegal" immigrants in Texas, or something. Steve Benen:
So, a few things.
Right off the bat, it's worth emphasizing that Biden didn't single out Florida; Florida singled out Florida with its intensifying crisis. As NBC News reported, "The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S."
In fact, roughly a year and a half into the pandemic, conditions in Florida are effectively as bad now as they've ever been, which is bound to get noticed, whether the governor of the Sunshine State likes it or not.
But more broadly, what we saw from DeSantis was a clumsy effort, not to defend his record, and not to help protect his own constituents, but to dramatically change the subject. The COVID crisis isn't the story the Republican wants to talk about, so the governor, embracing "whataboutism" to an absurd degree, tried to shift the focus to a story he likes better.
Forget the pandemic; forget Florida's maxed out hospitals; forget rapidly rising infection tallies; forget lagging vaccination rates. Ron DeSantis would prefer to talk about immigrants and the U.S./Mexico border.
In fact, the ambitious GOP governor's political operation even sent a fundraising letter to his supporters yesterday, suggesting "migrants" are responsible for climbing COVID numbers.
At this point, we could explain that the border is not, in reality, the problem. We could also explain that Florida is one of the hemisphere's largest peninsulas -- it's largely surrounded by water -- and it shares a border with Georgia and Alabama, not Mexico.
But there's ultimately no real point in even taking DeSantis' rhetoric seriously as a substantive argument, because it's not. The governor doesn't have a plan to deal with his state's intensifying public-health crisis; he opposes policies that might help for purely political reasons; and he's on the defensive after the president helped expose his indifference.
President Joe Biden called on Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Tuesday, following a report that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
“He should resign,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
Asked whether Cuomo should be removed from office if he refuses to resign, Biden said, “I understand the state legislature may decide to impeach, I do not know that for a fact.”
Shortly after Biden’s response, New York State House Speaker Carl Heastie (D) announced the launch of an impeachment inquiry.
In calling on Cuomo to step down, Biden joined nearly every other major Democratic lawmaker in both Albany and Washington. But from atop the party leadership, Biden’s demand carries more weight than others.
Cuomo’s press office did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC on the president’s remarks.
A somber but defiant Cuomo strongly denied some of those allegations later Tuesday, and said that other examples of his alleged misconduct had been mischaracterized or misinterpreted.
The 165-page report, which comprises interviews with 179 witnesses and a review of tens of thousands of documents, also said that Cuomo’s office was riddled with fear and intimidation, and was a hostile work environment for many staffers.
The women Cuomo is accused of harassing included members of his own staff, members of the public and other state employees, one of whom was a state trooper, the report found.
The wave of demands that Cuomo resign Tuesday represented a stunning fall from grace for a politician who made no secret of his national ambitions, and was widely seen as a potential 2024 Democratic presidential nominee should Biden decide not to run for re-election.
Speaker Carl Heastie says that, following a conference involving the Attorney General's report concerning sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo, the governor has "lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office."
This, after the New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced the findings of a five-month investigation into the governor Tuesday morning.
Heastie also says that once they "receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible."
Understand that New York Republicans will immediately declare Hochul as worse than Cuomo the day after his resignation, but I'm pretty sure she can take it.