Americans know whom to blame for the delta surge, the uptick in hospitalizations in low-vaccination states and the spike in infections among children. A recent Morning Consult-Politico poll found 49 percent blame the unvaccinated and the political leaders who ban mask or vaccine requirements; another 21 percent blame one of these groups and only 22 percent blame neither. Among Republicans, a majority — 53 percent — blame at least one of these groups or both while 39 percent blame neither.

The MAGA governors who oppose mask and vaccine mandates insist they favor “personal responsibility.” However, a huge percentage of residents in their states have already proved to be grossly irresponsible and indifferent to the lives of their friends, neighbors and colleagues. They have had plenty of opportunity to make responsible choices; they flunked the test.

The link between poor health statistics and state government control is striking. Of the 20 states with the lowest vaccination rates, all but three (Louisiana, North Carolina and Nevada) have GOP governors. On maps showing covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, the states with the worst outbreaks also closely match the states that voted Republican for president in 2020. For examples of Americans with high levels of personal responsibility and concern for others, look to the blue states that dominate the rankings among the most vaccinated and the fewest new cases.

The victims are increasingly children. Politico reports: “Nearly 1,600 kids with Covid-19 were hospitalized last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a new seven-day record and a 27 percent increase from the week before. Tennessee’s health commissioner expects the state’s children’s hospitals to be full by the week’s end. Louisiana reached that point more than a week ago. And Arkansas’ only children’s hospital has just two ICU beds remaining.”

Responsible local officials are trying their best to keep the surge from increasing. Texas judges have sided with local officials in San Antonio, Dallas County and Bexar County who are defying Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. That might not be enough to avoid a tragedy.

The Texas Tribune reported on Wednesday: “The number of Texans hospitalized with COVID-19 is increasing quicker than at any other point of the pandemic. Hospital officials say upwards of 95% of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, and they will soon be overwhelmed by the caseload." As a sign of the impending medical catastrophe, the Tribune notes, "Dozens of hospitals are out of ICU beds as they struggle with historically low staffing levels and staff burnout.” Will the unfolding tragedy finally convince the most deluded MAGA cultists that the Republican formula — play to right-wing media while endangering their own people — is a bad political strategy?

Florida is another debacle in the making. There, too, local officials — including those in the school systems of Broward and Miami-Dade counties — are refusing to go along with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s ban on mask and vaccine requirements. But throughout the state, DeSantis’s life-threatening edict is taking its toll. CNBC reports: “Hospitals across Florida are now being pushed to the limit with ICU beds filling up and providers struggling to find enough staff to care for patients as the state fights one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the nation, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant.” The worst may be ahead:

86% of in-patient beds [are] in use compared with 74% nationwide as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services. Across the U.S., roughly 10% of all hospital beds are being used to treat Covid patients, while nearly 28% of the beds in Florida are occupied by them — the highest of any state, the data shows.
Just over 90% of the state’s ICU beds were in use as of Wednesday, almost half of them filled with Covid patients, according to HHS data.
Florida’s death toll is on the rise as well at a seven-day average of 88 daily Covid deaths, up 51% from last week but below the record average of more than 180 deaths per day in late January, according to Hopkins data.

Then there is Mississippi. The Mississippi Free Press reports, “Two days ago, Mississippi health officials announced that zero intensive-care beds remained available in hospitals statewide.” The center’s pediatric hospital is at capacity. “In late July, [officials at the University of Mississippi Medical Center] said they did not expect the pediatric hospital to fill up, but a surge in cases among children is happening just as children return to school — in many cases with no mask mandates and fewer precautions than last fall." That hospital alone has 26 children with covid-19, six in the ICU and four on ventilators. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves refuses to issue a mask mandate for schools. The result: “The Mississippi State Department of Health reported that almost 1,000 schoolchildren tested positive for COVID-19 last week alone.”

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The worst perpetrators of this avoidable tragedy are not a few stray crackpots such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.); they are, in fact, among the top contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Not all Republicans are prohibiting mask or vaccine mandates, but all governors who do so — in Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Utah — are Republican.

This is certainly not a “pro-life” party. Around the country, Americans in large numbers have figured out what these political hacks are up to: sacrificing the health and lives of Americans at the altar of their political ambition.