Stronger, deadlier variants of the virus that's killed over 600 thousand Americans continue to emerge, threatening to severely recede the progress made by the United States through vaccinations and adherence safety guidelines.
This is in no small part due to the politicization of the virus by former President Donald Trump and the Republican party. In the first wave of the pandemic, Republicans railed against temporary shutdowns of non-essential businesses like bars and movie theaters, where the virus was running rampant.
Right-wing elected officials and media personalities have even promoted disinformation regarding the lifesaving vaccines, whose safety and effectiveness have been proven to slow the spread of the virus. This has resulted in a harsh partisan divide in attitudes toward the vaccines.
Republican Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas are two elected officials who've prioritized the political palatability of their pandemic strategy over the safety of their residents.
Last year, the governor of Florida issued an order that effectively barred state and local governments from enforcing mask mandates. This past summer alone, DeSantis signed legislation banning businesses from utilizing vaccine passports to ensure the safety of their customers. He also issued an executive order earlier this month banning schools from mandating mask usage for children, even though children under 12 aren't yet eligible to be vaccinated.
As recently as this past Saturday, Florida saw an all-time state record for its single day number of positive cases. The very next day, it became the national leader in hospitalizations per capita, with over 10 thousand Floridians hospitalized with the virus.
The situation in the Lone Star State isn't much better. Governor Abbott recently issued executive orders limiting mask mandates and vaccine passports, even as Texas hospitals are bracing for another surge.
Last week, one in three cases of the virus in the United States were in Florida or Texas.
President Joe Biden touched on the Governors' policies in comments to the press this week, urging them to stop actively hindering Americans' fight against the virus.
"Look, we need leadership from everyone. If some governors aren't willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic then they should allow businesses or universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it. I say to these governors please help, but if you aren't going to help at least get out of the way when people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives."
Biden isn't the only one calling out Abbott's and DeSantis' leadership—or lack thereof.
The Governors show no signs of reversing course.