What kind of person mocks a death as a result of COVID?

If you do not know anyone at present who has received COVID-19, I would be shocked. Especially with this latest wave of the virus, the infections are sky high, even among those who have done everything in their power to avoid it.

And omicron is an infector for equal opportunities: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come down with it, and the senses Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker were also tested positive – all Democrats.

This reality has not slowed down the narrative that it is ignorant Republicans who are flooding hospitals. And it has not done much to stop the prevailing “holier-than-thou-attitude” that those infected, including hospitalized and dying, must have done something to deserve it.

The response is a symptom of the division and contempt that plagued the country long before COVID-19 came on the scene.

Yes, it’s frustrating to constantly hear how overwhelmed hospitals are with those suffering from the virus, and the health workers at the front line must be more than exhausted.

It would be easy to put all the blame on those who have refused vaccines or have not worn their masks or socially distanced religiously, but what is going on is more complicated than that.

While 44% of self-identified Trump Republicans in a recent Detroit News-WDIV poll said they refused to get shots, only 38% of those in overwhelmingly democratic Detroit have been fully vaccinated, well below the nationwide average of 58%.

President Job Biden goes on to call this a pandemic of unvaccinated people, even though vaccinated individuals get and spread the virus. A lot even end up in the hospital.

Yet recent news reports and anecdotes on social media maintain the belief that those who succumb to the virus are second-class citizens who do not deserve our sympathy or compassion.

Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik recently wrote a piece with the headline: “Mocking the death of anti-waxxers is mind-numbing, yes – but necessary.”

Hiltzik’s column centered on Kelly Ernby, a rising California Republican who opposed vaccine mandates and then died of COVID.

This is an extreme point of view, but far from uncommon. Similar attitudes are on the way into hospitals and among healthcare professionals, which is a frightening prospect.

An NPR headline this month read: “Are hospital workers running out of sympathy for unvaccinated COVID patients?”

In that story, Daniela Lamas, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, discussed “the risk of compassion fatigue for the unvaccinated.”

Many who end up in the hospital and on the respirator also have comorbidities. Should our compassion take these factors into account? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out that underlying factors such as obesity play a significant role in how severely someone is affected by COVID.

“Having obesity can triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection,” the CDC said.

We should certainly not avoid those who struggle with their weight.

Similarly, our reactions to those who have COVID should not be based on whether a person is a Republican or a Democrat. It is a sad day when mocking the end of a human life is considered acceptable because of our ideological divides.

– Tribune News Service

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