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President Donald Trump’s campaign rally Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Okla. (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)

Covid rebels without a clue

The “Lost Cause” of pandemic deniers

Jeffrey Denny

A friend and I were musing about Americans who still refuse to wear Covid-19 masks, scoff that it’s a hoax, and declare that this simple measure to protect others and curb the pandemic infringes upon their liberty.

We disrespectfully referred to the Covid-deniers as “idiots” because their inexplicable rebellion is causing infection, illness and deaths to spike and normal life to shut down again where they live, affecting them first and worst.

I wondered if the Covid were called a plague, would people fear it more and help curb the spread? Isn’t a pandemic the same as a plague? We Googled and it turns out, pretty much.

Then so what if “The Great Plague of 2020,” as I’m now calling it, covered victims with red spots, pustules and lesions, like with smallpox, so the infected were obvious and shunned or shamed into protecting others? Or what if the Covid killed 50–70% of the untreated, like the Bubonic Plague? Thank God it doesn’t.

Sadly, it might make little difference.

Reckless, rebellious, selfish ignoramuses have plagued humanity from the start, hurting not only themselves but many others. For example, texting or drinking while driving. Or starting a Civil War to defend slavery, which many knuckle-draggers still call “The Lost Cause of the Confederacy.”

Self-destructive rebels may not be winning the Darwinian race, but on a positive note, they’re advancing evolution by thinning themselves from the herd. As they say in Texas, bless their hearts, they mean well.

Take smoking. While smoking rates have dropped from 42.5% in 1965 to 14% today, that’s still 38 million Americans who don’t care about cancer, lung disease, painful death, grieving families and friends, secondhand smoke or the $300 billion that smoking-related illnesses cost the country.

The smoking rate is even higher — 21% — in 12 states dubbed “Tobacco Nation”: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Incidentally, all these states went for Trump in 2016.

Also consider obesity, another killer. Over 42% of Americans suffer, up from 30% in a decade, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The causes are myriad, including poverty, and the food industry often is blamed.

But many Americans simply choose to defy the urgent medical advice, healthy options, people who worry and care about them, and billions of dollars poured over decades into helping and urging people to eat well and exercise. Their defiance costs the nation around $200 billion in care for obesity-related illnesses.

By the way, 17 of the 20 most obese states — led by Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee — went for Trump in 2016. Driving through these states, it’s tough to find anywhere to eat healthy. Good luck vegans!

How about seat belts — everyone wears them, right? Nope. Of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47% were unbuckled, per federal highway statistics. Of the ten states where the most crashes happen, led by Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois and Pennsylvania, all but California went for Trump. A federal study estimated that traffic accidents cost $871 billion each year.

While Trump has spread masklessness and thus the pandemic, it’s hard to blame him for smoking, obesity and traffic deaths. But it’s no coincidence when the most reckless, defiant people support him. To his base, he’s the Rebel President. Cheering his chaos, destruction and gratuitous nastiness is of a piece with waving the Confederate flag, screw the people it hurts. While demanding law and order, their rebel yell is, “The government’s not gonna tell me what to do! That’s socialism!”

Now take health insurance, the costs of which are boosted by these feckless rebels who, in turn, blame the government or Obama.

In the middle of an historic pandemic, with 3.8 million confirmed cases in America and 142,000 dead as Florida, Texas and California spike anew, and with millions who’ve lost their jobs and employer health coverage, Trump supporters cheer his hellbent drive to kill the Affordable Care Act. And without demanding he replace it with something better as he promised to do immediately.

Trump’s base obviously doesn’t care about the majority of other Americans who support it, and the vast majority, including Republicans, who back its key feature, preexisting condition coverage. Or that 20 million people, including many Trump supporters, will be uninsured without it.

Without ACA, try buying coverage if you have the Covid, which would be a preexisting condition — and a costly one, an average of $73,000 if you’re hospitalized and lack private insurance or your caregivers are out of network. In one infamous case the Covid care bill ran over $1 million — and still not including the fees for the skilled nursing facility, dialysis and doctors.

Why are Trump supporters so happy to saw off the limb they’re sitting on, taking down everyone with them?

It’s hard to fathom. Hate for Obama and the Democrat libs? Hate for “government healthcare,” even among the many older and poorer Trump supporters and their families depending on free government Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans care? ACA is terrible and the portions are too small, as the old Catskills joke goes? Let’s hope it’s not ideology, which doesn’t help when you or a loved one needs a ventilator to survive. Whatever the reason, we all pay.

America was built on rebellion, from our fight for independence to today’s racial justice movement. But we the people continue forming a more perfect union when our rebels have a good cause. Otherwise, it’s just being childish, ornery, spiteful, anarchist, self-destructive and — sorry — idiotic.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

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