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In April of last year, then President Trump said, “And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? So it’d be interesting to check that.” Pointing to his head, Mr. Trump went on to say, “I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like a person that has a good you-know-what.”

Poison centers in at least five states reported that they’d had a notable increase in calls within 18 hours of Trump’s remarks. The manufacturers of Clorox, Lysol and Dettol issued statements advising Americans not to ingest their products. When journalists asked the president about these developments he responded, “I can’t imagine why.”

Conservative media and Trump are still promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, to treat COVID-19. The medical community long ago advised against this “off label” use of the drug. And when Trump actually had COVID-19, his treating physician did not include hydroxychloroquine in his treatment plan.

The latest new thing cooked up on conservative social and broadcast media for the treatment of COVID-19 is an animal deworming medicine called ivermectin. Top health officials in Mississippi issued an alert last week advising against the use of this drug to treat or prevent COVID-19 after calls to the state’s poison control center increased with 70% of the calls being associated with people ingesting ivermectin.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has stated that 31 U.S. clinical trials that have been completed, withdrawn or are ongoing have not produced proof that ivermectin can treat COVID-19 (Martin Pengelly for The Guardian). The FDA has issued numerous warnings that the drug formula used for animals is very different from that being tested on humans and should be consumed by only the animals and for the physical conditions it is sold to treat.

Essentially, these people are willing to consume unsafe substances for humans in order to avoid taking vaccines that have been safely administered to millions of people and have proved to be effective. How does one explain this? Part of the explanation is the opposition to vaccinations of any type by many Christian evangelicals, which long preceded COVID-19.

There’s another segment of the population that has been advised by physicians not to take the vaccine due to medical conditions such as allergies to vaccine components, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and other ailments that would make the vaccine too risky for them.

But as for the rest of these people, especially since the FDA has given its full approval to a COVID-19 vaccine, it appears to me to be a manifestation of plain old orneriness. Even Trump was booed at a rally in Alabama recently for saying, “But I recommend take the vaccines. I did it. It’s good. Take the vaccines.”

I’ve seen numerous articles and books analyzing the cause of 21st century American conservatives’ susceptibility to health and other misinformation. It’s a very disturbing reality. And GOP politicians are adept at taking advantage of this problem.

Nashville’s News Channel 5 did a piece on a local first-year nurse’s experience with the anti-vaxxers. “Unlike earlier in the pandemic, the people she sees dying now are those who simply made the decision not to get the vaccine.”

When asked how many people she’d seen die from COVID, she replied, “Too many to count.” She said, “I’m really, really angry all the time. People are dying who don’t need to die.” But many of those who do survive COVID aren’t able to return to their former lives. She mentions those who are going to be dependent on oxygen the rest of their lives and those who, because of COVID, had an anoxic brain injury and are now so brain-damaged that they will have to live in a nursing facility for the remainder of their lives.

A guy’s tweet from Monday says it all. “My friend teaches high school and I asked him how his first week back at school is going. ...” The friend replied, “Thanks, Dude! Kids arrive Wed, but we’ve been in mtgs the last week asking Q’s like ‘Can I leave my door open for ventilation from the deadly virus?’ ‘No. You must keep it closed for the active shooters.’ So, that’s kinda where the American school system’s at right now.” Ditto for the entire nation.

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Debbie Arrington lives in Kingsport and has earned degrees in history and accounting.. You can email her at debarrington@hotmail.com.