COVID-19 threatens to rip apart Southern states in a way that isn't happening anywhere else
On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp finally issued a stay-at-home order for his state after resisting it for weeks. Kemp’s stated reason was one part amusing, three parts terrifying: he claimed that he had just learned that some people with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, a fact that has been clear since January. Meanwhile, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has still not provided any statewide guidance, leaving such decisions to cities and counties. The same thing applies in Alabama, where Republican Gov. Kay Ivey sniffed that her state is “not California” and declared that she’s not ready to take an action that might hurt the economy. In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has left even state legislators and Republican officials frustrated by his unwillingness to do more than issue recommendations without any force of law. And Arkansas now enjoys a position that may be unique in the nation: Not only has Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to set any level of suppression across the state, but there are also no city or county stay-at-home orders. Arkansas is open for business. And virus transmission.
But it’s not just the failure of red-state Republicans that is putting the Southern states in the crosshairs for the next wave of novel coronavirus infections. Everything from Fox News to Walmart is aligned against these states … and it’s all going to bring a horrific cost.