Politics and pandemic are a combination that endangers all of us

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When Donald Trump was the president, Dr. Anthony Fauci told us a year ago “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” despite the threat of COVID-19.

Now that Joe Biden is the president, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the man who’s in charge of the nation’s response to the coronavirus, now says it’s “common sense” to wear two masks instead of one.

That’s what happens when you mix politics with a pandemic.

Our elected officials do us a disservice when they’re more interested in pandering for votes and blaming their opponents than telling us the truth about COVID-19. Less than two weeks ago in a televised town hall on CNN, Biden said “it’s one thing to have the vaccine – which we didn’t have when we came into office – but a vaccinator. How do you get the vaccine into someone’s arm?”

That wasn’t just a misstatement. That was a lie.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10.6 million Americans, including thousands in Clay County, had been inoculated against COVID-19 before Biden was inaugurated.

CNN didn’t challenge Biden’s claim, which was a greater disservice because the network knew better. But the truth apparently didn’t fit their agenda.

And it proved again politics have no place in the world’s fight against a killer virus.

Johnson & Johnson is expected to have its vaccine approved and shipped out within days. The company will join Moderna and Pfizer in eradicating the virus. Those vaccinations were created by scientists, not politicians.

Heather Huffman, the administrator of the Clay County Health Department, told the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday 62% of our county’s seniors have been vaccinated.

“We’re above the 50% threshold and that makes me happy,” she said.

Huffman updates the commission every two weeks. She never mentions Republicans or Democrats. Her outlook often is mixed with concern and optimism. That’s what happens when you’re being honest. She’s concerned only with vaccines, not votes.

Huffman, along with Director of Emergency Management John Ward, the county commission, Orange Park Medical Center, Ascension St. Vincent Clay County, the sheriff’s office and the school district, have done a monumental job keeping all of us apprised of the coronavirus – all while working within confusing, and often ridiculous, HIPPA guidelines.

Soon, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart and Sam’s Club will administer inoculations. Hopefully, the end of this incredible scourge is coming soon.

Of course, it’s still important we do our parts. Wear your mask. Or masks. Avoid close contact. Wash your hands. In short, be smart.

Our county officials and hospitals are doing their parts. Vaccinations are being given at the Extension Office at the Clay County Fairgrounds as soon as supplies arrive. Residents who fall into the Phase 1a guidelines can sign up for COVID-19 vaccine alerts at Alert.ClayCountyGov.com. The county then will alert you when a new batch of vaccines are available.

Within months, everyone who wants a vaccine will have one and we can return to our routines without trepidation, and it will be the result of the work of our frontline workers and local officials.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also deserves a lot of credit. Regardless of what the current administration has falsely claimed, he was quick to make sure the vaccines were distributed to areas where they were needed most. He’s also championed getting pharmacies and retailers involved in the process.

Some national news outlets have criticized DeSantis for prioritizing vaccinations to the elderly. The governor doesn’t owe anyone an apology for saving lives of the most-vulnerable. It also shows you DeSantis must be doing something right because these are the same organizations who didn’t challenge Biden’s lie about not having the vaccine.

That’s why you should never mix politics with the pandemic.

And you should count on your community leaders to keep you informed. They’re more interested in your safety than your vote.

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