Commentary, COVID-19

NC conservative group, GOP legislative leaders send contradictory COVID messages

If there’s a most maddening aspect to the dangerous and destructive stances taken by the Trumpian right when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has to be the stubborn refusal to acknowledge and abide by the findings and recommendations of scientists and public health experts.

As in so many other areas of public policy in which American conservatives have elevated profits and near-term comfort and convenience for the well-off over the common good and long-term well-being for the broader society (e.g. the climate crisis, investments in core public structures like health and education), most of the right seems bent on following Trump right over the cliff, even when they simply must know better.

For a classic case in point, consider the Raleigh-based conservative group known as the Carolina Partnership for Reform. For several years now, the group, which has close ties to the state GOP political leadership, has put out a steady stream of hard right commentaries and social media posts that attack Democrats, defend Republicans and promote conservative policies. Of late, this has included multiple posts that have attacked the Cooper administration and repeated Trump and Fox News talking points on issues related to the pandemic. Among other things, the group has referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” promoted the idea of keeping the GOP convention in Charlotte and promoted a more rapid reopening of businesses.

Yesterday, however, the group seems to have inadvertently let science and genuine research creep into its storytelling. In a newsletter article entitled “COVID-19 Activity Risks,” the group featured a story on a Texas TV news site that cited the Texas Medical Association (see the above chart) that it touted as spelling out “common-sense” approaches to coping with the pandemic.

In the article, entitled “Here is your risk of getting the coronavirus during various activities,” the absolute most dangerous of 37 activities listed was “going to a bar.” Another of the most risky behaviors: “working out at a gym.”

One can only wish the group had shared this post with Senator Phil Berger and its other pals in the GOP legislative leadership before they cynically advanced legislation (thankfully vetoed by the governor) that would have mandated the opening of bars and gyms in the state.

The bottom line: It’s great to see some folks on the right finally embracing science on a vitally important matter of public policy. Now they just need to work on getting their allies in public office to do the same.

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