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breaking news Republicans stumble while trying to show more urgency over COVID-19 vaccines

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Several high-profile Republicans have recently embraced the coronavirus vaccine, finally getting vaccinated or encouraging others to get vaccinated.

Fox News host Sean Hannity, who previously called COVID-19 “hoax,Promoted the vaccine on her show this week. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) Took the hit this week after saying months ago he would get it “soon. “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was urging Floridians to get vaccinated. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) Has repeatedly said vaccinations encouraged in the last days.

But Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) On Thursday dismissed the idea that Republicans spoke differently about vaccines.

“I don’t think we’ve changed our tone,” he said, explaining that rapid vaccine development has always been a prominent Republican achievement under former President Donald Trump.

And some other Republicans aren’t quite ready to let go of the doubt and skepticism they have sown in the public about the danger of the virus and the effectiveness of vaccines.

House Republicans gathered Thursday morning for a press conference with medics, which was touted as a push to get more Americans vaccinated and to discuss the new delta variant, which is more contagious and is spreading rapidly in all the countries. But they spent most of their time blaming China for creating an “evil virus,” as Scalise put it, and criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) For not doing so. do enough to examine its origins.

“Why is she trying to do the work of the Chinese Communist Party by covering this up? Scalise asked.

When Republican lawmakers spoke about the need to get vaccinated, they presented it as a personal decision rather than an imperative in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

“We urge all Americans to talk to their doctors about the risks of COVID, talk to their doctors about the benefits of getting the vaccine, and then make a decision that is right for them about the vaccine,” said Representative Andy Harris (R -Md.), Physician and co-chair of the House Republican Doctors Caucus. “If you are at risk, you should get this vaccine. “

One of these days, if we’re not careful, we’ll have a variant that isn’t something we can handle with the vaccine we already have.
Representative Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone eligible for the vaccine get vaccinated as soon as possible, not just those at higher risk of disease.

Republicans were much less likely to get the vaccine than Democrats, according to survey data. Polls also show that doctors are the most trusted source of vaccine information and that unvaccinated adults trust doctors relatively more than government, which is probably why Republican officials tell people to talk to. their doctors when promoting the vaccine.

Although Scalise attended the press conference that walked away from his vaccine boosting commercial, earlier this week he posed for a photo while finally getting his shot.

Scalise told HuffPost he had not been vaccinated so far because he had already tested positive for antibodies – meaning he believed he had some protection against COVID-19 against a previous mild or asymptomatic infection – but with the new variant spreading, he decided to get the vaccine.

“I have spoken to hospital directors in my state, and over 98% of people admitted to hospitals right now for COVID are not vaccinated,” he said, “and I just felt that it was a good time to get it. extra level of protection and also thought it was important to publicly encourage people.

“At the end of the day, it’s everyone’s choice and, you know, if they have any questions, talk to their doctor, but at the same time it’s safe and effective and I’m happy to have it, ”he added.

Representative Richard Hudson (RNC), who received the vaccine as soon as he could earlier this year, said he didn’t think there was necessarily more enthusiasm for the vaccine in the conference Republican House due to the delta variant.

“If you weren’t afraid of the original COVID, you shouldn’t be afraid of the Delta,” Hudson told HuffPost. “I think most of the epidemic we’re seeing is in unvaccinated people, but even among the unvaccinated, hospitalization and death rates are extremely low.”

Hudson added: “I see, from the left, a kind of growing hysteria about the variant, which is concerning.”

Representative Joe Wilson (RS.C.) also said he doesn’t think there has been an increase in pro-vaccine sentiment among Republicans, although he said he got his vaccine. at once.

“It’s not a change. I’m always thrilled, “he said.” This is the success of Mike Pence and Operation Warp Speed. “

Even though most Republicans won’t publicly admit there is a change, the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus appears to be making people nervous, according to GOP strategists. The stock market recently tumbled amid concerns about the resurgent spread of the virus, and there are fears of reverting to lockdowns and restrictions from last year.

Cases are also increasing in unvaccinated areas – including many districts represented by Republicans in Congress. This reality may prompt some lawmakers to push vaccinations more urgently.

For example, in the parish of Plaquemines in the district of Scalise, there was a 929% increase in COVID-19 cases over a recent 14-day period and a 57% increase in hospitalizations.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) Said there had indeed been a change.

“It seems to me that elected Republican officials and some conservative journalists are talking about having vaccines that weren’t a few weeks ago,” Blunt told reporters.

Blunt suggested that the rise of the delta variant might explain the rhetorical shift and noted that the available vaccines work well against the new strain of the virus.

“One of these days, if we’re not careful,” he said, “we’re going to have a variant that isn’t something we can handle with the vaccine that we already have. “

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified Richard Hudson as being from New York rather than North Carolina.

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