Health and Medicine

How Omicron scrambled Democrats’ responses to COVID

By Joel Mathis, The Week

For much of the last two years, differing approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic mapped neatly onto our political divisions. The right battled against lockdowns and other protective measures, while folks on the left doggedly wore masks and celebrated vaccines. Polarization won again. But the latest wave of coronavirus cases — probably fueled by the Omicron variant — has scrambled those lines: While conservatives remain anti-everything, Democrats and liberal pundits seem confused and at odds about the way forward.

This is especially apparent at the state and local levels. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul this week ordered a new mask mandate, and outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a plan to distribute masks and tests, with the city’s restaurants closed to anybody who hasn’t been vaccinated. But Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), on the other hand, said this week he wouldn’t try to impose a mandate on his state, declaring that “the emergency is over” and that “at this point, if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s really your own darn fault.” Other Dem governors, like Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and Kansas’ Laura Kelly have come out publicly against President Biden’s vaccine mandate, complicating his efforts to protect Americans against the virus.

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