When Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan sees a football stadium crowded with people, he's picturing happy fans and excited parents — not the potential for thousands of vectors for an infectious virus to spread during a global pandemic.
On Sept. 7, Jordan tweeted a video of a very full Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin as the Badgers played Penn State. The Sept. 4 game was the team's first in nearly two years due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Real America is done with #COVID19. God bless!" Jordan tweeted in his share of a Barstool Sports video.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's chief medical advisor and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refuted Jordan's assessment of the situation. During an interview that evening with MSNBC's Joy Reid, Fauci directly addressed Jordan's notion that the country was "done" with COVID-19.
"COVID is not done with us. And that's really the problem, that you can't wish it away," Fauci said.
Fauci added that even if most of those football fans had been vaccinated, the number of people gathered together presented a big opportunity for COVID-19 to spread.
"When you have the numbers of infections that you just mentioned a moment ago, I mean, I would hope that most of the people in that stadium were vaccinated. And even if they were, the close congregate setting, they should have been wearing masks. Certainly, those who are unvaccinated should be wearing masks," Fauci told Reid.
"And I didn't see any of that in the picture that I saw about that, which is really unfortunate, because then you lead to outbreak, which leads to hospitalizations, which get to the numbers that you were talking about a few moments ago," Fauci said.
Wisconsin Public Radio recently reported that 88% of students and 92% of staff have gotten vaccinated from COVID-19.
But that wasn't the only misstep that Jordan, who is a former wrestler and not a physician or epidemiologist, made this week. On Sept. 6, Jordan inaccurately tweeted "Vaccine mandates are un-American."
For the record, the United States as a country does not presently make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory in any way, but state and local governments and individual employers or schools can require a variety of vaccinations for various reasons.
As hundreds of publications and doctors have pointed out, though, vaccination mandates are indeed as American as the country's first president. In 1777, George Washington ordered all military troops to be inoculated against smallpox during the Revolutionary War.
Dr. Peter Hotez, an actual molecular virologist, took Jordan to task.
Moreover, vaccination mandates have been protected by the U.S. Supreme Court for well over 100 years, Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University, recently told NPR.
"The first vaccine mandate law was enacted in the United States in 1809 for smallpox. But the Supreme Court in 1905 in a very famous case called Jacobson v. Massachusetts upheld a Cambridge City law, which required smallpox vaccination. That was something where the Supreme Court said that we don't have a right to place other people at risk," Gostin said. "And by 1922, in another case, Justice Brandeis, writing for unanimous court, upheld childhood school mandates, calling it settled law."
The part about not putting other people at risk is important, and Gostin added later that the COVID-19 vaccine likely will become part of the typical round of vaccinations that every American gets.
"I think in the immediate future, throughout this year and into next, we're going to see mandates very widely imposed throughout the public and private sector workforce," Gostin said. "I absolutely predict that in a year or two, CDC will recommend COVID-19 vaccines as part of the required vaccination of children as a condition of going to school. And most states, but not all, will comply with that."
Jordan's inaccurate tweets come as Ohio experiences a major, sustained spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Every county in Ohio currently is labeled as high risk for coronavirus transmission.
On June 13, Ohio had just 182 daily COVID-19 cases, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard. Since then, the case rate has steadily increased to 325 on July 6; 2,251 on Aug. 6; and 6,326 on Aug. 31.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus largely has been responsible for the sharp uptick in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and scientists warn that this strain is much more dangerous than the original virus. People infected with Delta carry 1,000 times more of the virus, which makes it easier to transmit among others when speaking, singing, sneezing or breathing hard, particularly within indoor areas. Health experts say that Delta is more than twice as easy to spread than the 2020 version of the virus.
Unvaccinated individuals are at the highest risk for severe infection and substantial health issues from coronavirus, experts say, though some vaccinated individuals have also have become infected due to Delta's highly contagious nature and the number of unvaccinated individuals within their communities. Symptoms and rates are less severe in individuals who are fully vaccinated with a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, though. According to the CDC, a “fully vaccinated” person is one who is two weeks past their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (J&J).
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently granted full approval for use of Pfizer's vaccine for adults. Pfizer's vaccines for teens and all vaccines from Moderna and J&J remain under the FDA's emergency use authorization, with more approvals expected later this year.
Jordan repeatedly has refused vaccination information from legitimate sources. He was an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, who had suggested that ultraviolet light or "disinfectant" could be used to "cleanse" a body of the coronavirus. Scientists and medical experts have loudly rejected those notions.
Or when Jordan was so credibly accused of looking away while the Ohio State University's team physician sexually abused members of the wrestling team that George Clooney wants to produce a docuseries about it?
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