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Bret Stephens: Let’s end the COVID blame games



Bret Stephens: Let’s end the COVID blame games

Over the summer, as COVID cases started rising from their midyear lows, it became popular to blame Republicans for fueling the pandemic. The argument was that COVID had become a red-state scourge because of lower rates of mask-wearing and vaccination — along with high doses of vaccine misinformation — in places that went heavily for Donald Trump.

It even seemed true for a while, with states like Florida, Alabama and Louisiana suffering from a huge surge in cases. But the virus has had a way of making fools of us all.

Take Vermont, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation and where Joe Biden took 66% of the vote. Because of the delta variant’s vigorous attack on even the relatively small number of unvaccinated Vermonters, the state has experienced one of the biggest recent COVID surges, with hospitalizations up by 24% in the past two weeks. In Santa Fe County, New Mexico, where Biden won with 76% and 74% of the population is fully vaccinated, hospitalizations are up by 40%.

You’ll find similar trends in Hennepin County, Minnesota (Biden, 70%), where vaccination rates are high; and in Wayne County, Michigan (Biden, 68%), where vaccination rates are relatively low.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and other red states, cases have plummeted after earlier surges swept through, leaving many with immunity.

We’ll see how long things will stay that way, now that the omicron variant has hit American shores. But here’s a plea for when it does: Let’s put an end to the partisan COVID blame games. They’re pointless, divisive and dumb.

Consider the record of COVID score-settling thus far:


COVID is mainly a problem of the big cities!

But then it became a tragedy for rural America. (And yes, this is me pleading guilty to a bad argument in the pandemic’s early days, when I thought population density would be the main driver of transmission.)


The lab-leak theory is racist right-wing conspiracy talk!

Um, except the argument is far from settled on whether or not it’s true.


Andrew Cuomo is a model of crisis management!

But then it turned out that the disgraced former governor was guilty of one of the worst political decisions in the early months of the pandemic, when he forced New York’s nursing homes to take back patients who had been hospitalized with COVID and later tried to cover up the blunder.


Ron DeSantis is a model of crisis management!

The Florida governor did, in fact, do well in the early months of the crisis, when he focused state resources on protecting the elderly, only to later preside over a gigantic spike in cases.


Trump is responsible for hundreds of thousands of COVID deaths that might have been avoided if only someone else had been in the White House!

But now Biden has presided over even more deaths, not that anyone should blame him for it.


Anti-vax myths are being driven by right-wing liars!

But then people like Sean Hannity of Fox News and Christopher Ruddy of Newsmax urged people to get their shots, while the bulk of vaccine misinformation on social media came from characters like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rizza Islam of the Nation of Islam and other alternative-medicine quacks of mostly unguessable political views.


Germany is a model of intelligent consensus-driven action when it comes to public health!

But vaccination rates among Germans are still relatively low, mistrust of government is depressingly high, and cases are soaring.


Sweden is a model of good sense when it comes to lockdowns!

Well, the Swedes, who avoided lockdowns, have fared relatively better than Spain or Britain, which locked down repeatedly. But, as Bloomberg’s Justin Fox points out, the Swedes also fared considerably worse than their Scandinavian neighbors, who took stricter precautions.


The list goes on.

There were those on the right who predicted an end to the pandemic based on expected herd-immunity thresholds. There were those on the left who foresaw an end based on vaccination rates. Nature — on the one hand viral and the other hand human — embarrassed them both. If the omicron variant is anything like the delta one in its transmissibility, it will embarrass them again.


So here are some modest pleas coming out of this Thanksgiving season.

Let’s put away our crystal balls and shake up our snow globes instead. We have about as much foresight in this crisis as a snowman in a blizzard.

Let’s quit arguing that COVID is a red- or blue-state thing. Yes, Republican areas have tended to have lower vaccination rates, but disease trends have a way of switching directions for reasons none of us really understands.

Let’s stop imputing bad faith or recklessness or greed to our partisan opponents. They have loved ones who are just as much at risk of infection as our own.

Let’s accept that people have needs and ideas that differ from ours, whether on account of health status, livelihood or deep-seated belief. Lectures, condescension and scorn aren’t going to change the way they think.

I have no idea what omicron will bring and very slight hopes that we’ll be able to exercise any effective form of control over it. But it shouldn’t be beyond asking that we stop being beastly to others. We are all riding out the same storm.

Bret Stephens writes a column for the New York Times.

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Fake COVID inspector tries to test QuikTrip workers to pay rent



Fake COVID inspector tries to test QuikTrip workers to pay rent

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A man was charged with false impersonation and identity theft Thursday after conducting COVID tests on employees at a Quik Trip.

A court document says Eddie Jameson, 27, posed as an inspector from the St. Louis County Department of Health and went to the Quik Trip located at 10739 Page Avenue. He said he was there to conduct COVID tests on store employees “so that county government could analyze the data to determine if certain restrictions should be eliminated or loosened.” He then had five employees fill out a form with their names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. After the form was filled out, “he administered a nasal swab to the employees.”

He then left the store and drove away in a red Pontiac Solstice convertible. “St. Louis County Health Department employees confirmed that no county employees were conducting tests of the type “performed” by [Jameson],” the court document said. Jameson then went to a market located at 11683 West Florissant and attempted to do the same thing. The employees there refused.

The court document said Jameson returned to the Quik Trip two days later. He told the employees their results would be ready the following day. Police then arrived at the store and arrested him.

Once arrested, Jameson told police that “he had not identified himself as a County health inspector but otherwise admitted administering the tests.” The court document said Jameson “had been working for an organization called Community Wellness America which provides testing for employees. [Jameson] provided the name of a supervisor who confirmed that [Jameson] was working for him but he was not to be administering tests, rather he was to provide the tests so that employees could administer the tests themselves.” Jameson admitted he was not trained on administering a nasal swab. He said he “had never performed one prior to swabbing the employees at the Quik Trip.” According to the court document, James said “he was supposed to receive $20 for every test that was submitted, and explained that he needed money to pay his apartment lease and was trying to obtain the tests in order to get money.”

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Get ready for warmer days with MSHP boating safety classes



Get ready for warmer days with MSHP boating safety classes

JEFFERSON CITY – Want to think Summer on a cold Winter day? Then sign up for a Missouri State Highway Patrol boating safety course to get ready for the boating season. Missouri law requires everyone born after January 1, 1984, who operates a vessel on Missouri lakes to have a certified boating safety education card. This includes personal watercraft operators.

You can sign up for a certified course at:

The courses are free, but registration is required and the boater ID card costs $15.

Don’t see classes in your troop location? Contact your nearest troop headquarters and ask to speak with a marine operations supervisor to check the possibility of additional classes.

Troop Headquarters Contact Information:
Troop A Lee’s Summit- (816) 622-0800
Troop B Macon- (660) 385-2132
Troop C Weldon Spring- (636) 300-2800
Troop D Springfield- (417) 895-6868
Troop E Popular Bluff- (573) 840-9500
Troop F Jefferson City- (573) 751-1000
Troop G Willow Springs- (417) 469-3121
Troop H St. Joseph- (816) 387-2345
Troop I Rolla- (573) 368-2345

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St. Louis woman charged in McDonald’s shooting over french fries



McDonald’s employee shot in north St. Louis County Wednesday afternoon

ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KTVI)– Authorities have charged a woman who is accused of shooting a McDonald’s restaurant employee Wednesday after an argument over a discount on french fries escalated. The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s office has charged Terika Clay, 30, of St. Louis, with first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

Normandy Police say Clay came through the drive-thru at the McDonald’s on the 1700 block of South Florissant Road in Cool Valley Wednesday afternoon when she argued with the victim, who was working the drive-thru window, about a discount on french fries. Court documents say Clay threatened to shoot the victim. When the employee left for a break, the confrontation continued, with a probable cause statement saying Clay hit the victim with the weapon before shooting her with it. The incident was captured on surveillance cameras, according to police.

The victim, police say, suffered a superficial wound and has been released from the hospital.

Clay is being held on $150,000 bond. A bond reduction hearing is scheduled for next week. If she’s released, a judge has ordered that she stay out of contact with the victim or other employees at the restaurant location and that she cannot be within 1,000 feet of the victim or the restaurant.

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