August 7, 2021
Dear Fellow Marylanders:
Public health should not be political.
Whether you are willing to take simple precautions to keep you and your family safe from a deadly virus – like washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask or avoiding close contact with people outside of your household – should not be determined by your political affiliation.
Viruses do not check voting records before infecting people.
Yet here we are today. August 7, 2021 – almost a year and a half after this pandemic started. Emergency rooms in some parts of the country are overwhelmed, again. Positivity rates are jumping up, including many parts of Maryland.
From the start, political leaders like Donald Trump tried to downplay the dangers of COVID-19, rather than heed the advice of medical professionals and trust the American people to do what is needed to deal with this crisis, like many before it. The president and other Republicans made mask wearing a political litmus test, rather than setting an example of healthy behavior. The consequences have been deadly.
More than 35 million Americans have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and we have had more than 615,000 deaths. New cases and hospitalization rates continue to rise, particularly in so-called red states like Louisiana, Florida and Texas.
It took time to ramp up production and distribution, but America now has a plentiful supply of three vaccines that help mitigate the severity of diseases and sickness associated with COVID-19. The government has purchased these doses, so there is no out-of-pocket cost to anyone, anywhere in this country. There are real health-related reasons why some individuals cannot receive the current vaccines, but otherwise, we must find a way to overcome non-medical hesitancy.
Unfortunately, political perspective seems to be playing a major role in what you believe about the pandemic today and what you are willing to do to keep your family safe.
As of this week, more than 70 percent of American adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot. However, data shows that you are more likely to be vaccinated if you live in a state President Joe Biden won in the 2020 presidential election. Seventeen of the 18 states that voted for Donald Trump have the lowest vaccination rates, according to a recent study by Brookings. The exception was Georgia, which had a razor-thin margin. Overall, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 75 percent of Democrats have been vaccinated, while only 41 percent of Republicans.
In recent days, Republicans like Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivey and the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Rep. Steve Scalise, have changed their rhetoric and started to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. After months of spreading anti-vaccine propaganda, perhaps they finally are seeing the deadly toll this pandemic is having on their constituents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 94 percent of recent cases have come from unvaccinated individuals.
I share all this with you because we all want to get back to whatever normal might be for our families. Especially here in Maryland, where positivity rates had been low for weeks at a stretch, and we were starting to relax and reconnect with the ones we love. That sense of normalcy is at risk until we can get more of our family and neighbors vaccinated. We need to follow the science and get ahead of the variants. The longer it takes, the more this virus will adapt and try to outsmart us.
We need to set politics aside and work together to save lives.
Please, reach out to someone you know who has not yet been vaccinated. Share with them your experience. Encourage them to talk to their doctor or a medical professional – someone who learned about diseases and viruses in medical school and not only from the Internet. This is not a giant experiment. This is a moment in history when we can all help each other stay healthy.
For your family and for the public good, please get vaccinated if you have not already. Check out https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine to find a vaccination location near you.
Thank you for understanding the seriousness of this pandemic and doing your part to get us all through it.