Tucker Carlson could do it. So could Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin or Donald Trump himself.
One of these conservative figures could go on the air and explain that the Omicron variant has placed much of their audience in grave danger. They could remind people that they have been skeptical of vaccines at times — but that Omicron is different. It is so contagious that it may quickly sweep the country.
As they issued this warning, they could still take their usual swipes at the political left, mocking panicky liberals for wearing masks outdoors and forcing children to sit apart in cold schoolyards. Conservatives don’t need to do any of that; they just need to take a Covid-19 vaccine — the “Trump vaccine” that could save their life.
I don’t have any illusions about how likely this scenario is, but I do think that unvaccinated Americans — who are disproportionately Republican — are now in even more danger than a few weeks ago. Omicron seems to be qualitatively more contagious than any earlier variant. As my colleague Emily Anthes writes, in a roundup of the latest developments:
In South Africa, Omicron spread twice as fast as the highly infectious Delta variant. In Britain, officials have estimated that 200,000 people are becoming infected with Omicron every day. In Denmark, Omicron cases are doubling roughly every two days.
In the U.S., partisanship is the biggest factor determining vaccination rates. If Democratic voters made up their own country, it would be one of the world’s most vaccinated, with more than 91 percent of adults having received at least one shot. Only about 60 percent of Republican adults have done so.
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