Even as more members of GOP leadership have started to encourage vaccinations—most notably among them former President Donald Trump—anti-vaxxers are still showing up to city and school board meetings to protest the lifesaving vaccination measures. A California megachurch pastor has taken to signing letters exempting those who don’t want to get a COVID-19 vaccination for religious purposes. “The vaccine poses a morally compromising situation for many people of faith,” Destiny Christian Church Pastor Greg Fairrington said in a statement the Los Angeles Times obtained. “The religious exemptions we are issuing speak to that, honor that, and affirm that.”
Texas’ lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, failed to mention people like Fairrington when assigning blame for spiking COVID-19 numbers. Patrick blamed Black people and Democrats in an interview last Thursday with Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “Most of the numbers are with the unvaccinated and the Democrats like to blame Republicans on that,” Patrick said. “Well, the biggest group in most states are African Americans who have not been vaccinated. The last time I checked over 90 percent of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties, so it’s up to the Democrats to get, just as it’s up to Republicans to try to get as many people vaccinated.”
Progressive political commentator Keith Boykin tweeted in response to the interview: “Texas Governor Greg Abbott is blocking the Black mayors of Houston and Dallas from implementing CDC-recommended Covid rules to save people’s lives and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has the audacity to blame Black people for the spread of Covid in his state.”
CNN and a number of other news agencies quickly dispelled the myth Patrick spread. “Even if we dive into the rates, the implication from Patrick that Black people are especially to blame for spreading the virus is not accurate,” CNN journalists Holmes Lybrand and Tara Subramaniam wrote in a fact-checking article for the news network. “According to data analyzed by KFF, Black people made up over 50% of positive Covid cases in only two of the 35 analyzed places as of August 16: the District of Columbia and Mississippi. Specifically, in Patrick’s state of Texas, Black people represent 15% of cases, Hispanics 52% and White people 32%.”
Dr. Cedric Dark, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College Of Medicine, told CNN legal analyst Laura Coates: “What Black men and Black women in medicine did from the beginning of this pandemic, from day one, is reach out to our communities so that we could get past the vaccine hesitancy that we knew was going to be there because of systemic injustices due to things like the Tuskegee experiment. We were the ones that were out there showing our arms and our Band-Aids from getting vaccinated early on because we wanted to set an example for our communities.”
Rep. Joyce Beatty, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters after meeting with President Joe Biden back in April that a vaccine campaign in partnership with the NAACP and the Urban League was aimed at vaccinating residents in Black neighborhoods. “Now, are there some people who remember the Tuskegee experiment or Henrietta Lacks? All of us here remember that, but guess what? All of us here are vaccinated,” Beatty said. “We want to dispel this notion of hesitancy.”
Warning: This video contains profanity.