The issue has moved from a health issue to a political one involving people health….
DeSantis’s hard-line stance has become the prevailing view of the Republican Party, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also stepping forward to oppose local mandates in their states in the name of protecting individual liberty. In the hotly contested race for Virginia governor, Republican Glenn Youngkin said in a debate last week that “individuals should be allowed to make that decision on their own,” while on Sunday Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, whose state is among the leaders in the country in covid deaths per 100,000 residents, warned on CNN that the country would be in “deep, deep trouble” if a president has “unilateral authority” to impose vaccine requirements.
But the GOP’s increasingly combative rhetoric on mandates and pandemic policies more broadly — such as DeSantis’s and Abbott’s executive orders barring schools from requiring everyone to wear masks — is making it harder for the country to move past the virus, some experts say.
The party’s stance contradicts well-established public health guidance on how to fight infectious disease, turning vaccine policy into the latest cultural flash point for an increasingly radicalized party. After all, experts note, mass vaccinations historically have not worked against deadly infectious diseases without mandates….
While surveys show strong Republican opposition to vaccine mandates, results are mixed when it comes to how voters feel about GOP governors’ work dealing with the pandemic. Recent polls in Florida and Texas — by Quinnipiac University and the University of Texas, respectively — showed small majorities disapproving of the way DeSantis and Abbott each have handled the issue. DeSantis’s approval on the pandemic, though, has risen slightly in recent months, while Abbott’s has dropped….