It’s been little more than a year since the January insurrection where Senators and House members hid from an angry mob of Trump supporters, (And yes, Republicans, a majority of rational people know this. They’re just spending too much time on the bench to take action against what’s likely to come.)
Now, with the surge of the Omicron, a variant which is much more contagious than it’s earlier incarnation, Delta, you would think those in Congress would listen to health officials (those are people who know more than you and me): get vaccinated, get boosted, get a mask on. Nope.
You would think that maybe with a new year a change in attitude, and a swing to rational thought would top the list of New Year’s resolutions. Nope.
Fourteen days into the new year with the Omicron variant, many Republicans don’t want to be the role models of respect and responsibility. They prefer to live in an alternate reality.
Here’s a round-up of some of the reality we are all living through.
“Patients with COVID now fill about 30% of ICU beds in the nation and pediatric COVID hospitalizations are also at the highest rate of the pandemic. . . . Overall, infections are also at record levels, with the U.S. averaging more than 700,000 new cases a day.
“‘We are closer to a crisis situation than we ever have been,’ said Dr. John Lynch at UW Medicine in Seattle at a recent press briefing.
“In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan, who has declared a state of emergency, said last week that the coming weeks will be the ‘most challenging time of the entire pandemic.’
“Health care workers in Arizona are warning state leaders that the health care system is on the verge of ‘collapse.’
“‘We’ve had more events where people are having cardiac arrests, or decompensating and getting very sick and even dying in the waiting rooms,’ Dr. Bradley Dreifuss, an emergency medicine physician in Tucson, Ariz., told reporters on Friday.
“‘But the problem is that [omicron is] so transmissible, the sheer number of cases is going to be so high,’ says Dr. Sameer Kadri, an infectious disease and critical care physician at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.”
On the other side of the universe are the alternate believers, those who ignore signs posted throughout the House of Representatives that declare in all capital letters: “USE OF FACE COVERINGS REQUIRED.”
“At least 129 House members and senators have announced a coronavirus infection since the outset of the pandemic, nearly a quarter of the lawmakers in Congress. A baker’s dozen announced infections in the last week alone. A mask mandate that has been only fitfully respected by Republicans in the House was turned up a notch to require only N95s and KN95s — and compliance is just as spotty.
“Two Republicans have died after contracting Covid — Representative Ron Wright of Texas and Representative-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana — and the refusal of some lawmakers on the right fringe to wear a mask in the hustle and bustle of House floor votes has some colleagues fearing for their health.
“‘I see people — members, staff — without masks,’ the House sergeant-at-arms, William J. Walker, a former District of Columbia National Guard commander, said this week. ‘I’ll walk up to them and ask them to put the mask on. Some just walk away from me.’”
When Lauren Boebert of Colorado came to the House floor last July she was offered a mask by a staff member. Boebert threw the mask back at the staffer. “Boebert’s office defended the Colorado freshman’s actions in a statement to CNN: ‘Rep. Boebert refuses to comply with Speaker Pelosi’s anti-science, totalitarian mask mandate.’”
However, the two biggest offenders of the House rule? Yup, you guessed it, history’s favorite “pandemic-rule-be-damned” House Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde.
“Role model” Greene has racked up at least $15,500 in fines.
“Greene has been cited at least seven times for breaking the House rule . . . Members are fined $500 for their first offense and $2,500 for each subsequent offense. The fines are deducted from their congressional pay of $174,000 annually.”
Both Greene and Clyde are a few House republican members who go maskless on the House floor.
Both Greene and Clyde are two proud Georgia peaches.
The few. The proud. The stupid.
(But the few are growing.)