Political stupidity? Or just outright murder?

It's hard to be in a Christmas spirit in a divided society where political stupidity leads to death.

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, those of us living in the United States face a 65% increase in COVID-19 cases of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 197,358 new cases were reported on Christmas Eve.

This year, at least one person of every six in America came down with COVID and one in every 407 have died from the disease.

Merry Christmas? Like hell, it is.

The daily report by the Virginia Department of Health, on Christmas Eve, said 8,756 new cases of COVID-19, driven mostly by the new Omicron variant, appeared in the Old Dominion.

The new variant has exceeded the peak of Delta, that last variant that brought many infections and deaths.

In Floyd County, 12 new cases appeared, along with a new death, bringing the county’s virus death toll to 33.

In America, 814,79 have died. More than 50 million have contracted the virus and hospitalizations are up by 10% in the last 14 days.

The new variant does not spare children. Pediatric hospitalizations for covid are surging in many parts of the country, alongside the arrival of omicron — as of Monday, the dominant strain in the United States — with about 800 new admissions each day for the past three days.

Disruptions? Airlines canceled over 3,800 flights on Christmas Eve And Day because of staffing shortages from the virus.

“A large number of our frontline team members are being required to test and isolate as close contacts given the increasing number of cases in the general community,” said a representative for Jetstar Airways, which had to cancel about 80 flights.

To make matters worse, a spreading right-wing anti-health movement that exists in Floyd County, Virginia, and elsewhere, threatens effective vaccinations and the use of masks at a time when such stupidity is dangerous.

Incoming Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned on eliminating mask mandates. He is joined by the cowboy-hat theatrics of Marie March, the Floyd Countian owner of two Christiansburg restaurants and now delegate who spends her so-called “legislative briefings” touting her legislative agenda that has nothing to do with area needs.

Sadly, a new county supervisor from Indian Valley was known most for her illegal refusal to wear a mask in a school board meeting. She had to be rejected, forcibly, by a county deputy. What happened to elected officials who tried to set a standard and not be substandard?

When we see those who put petty political whims above the needs of our community, it raises legitimate concerns about the safety of others. The political neophytes should study what happened in Ohio, where the legislature’s right-wingers blocked the ability of the Franklin County Health Department’s attempt to provide uniform mask rules for students in all the school systems in its area.

Five of the county’s 17 school districts required masks for students in teachers in all grades. Those districts had significantly fewer outbreaks of the virus in their schools. In the districts where masks were not enforced, some students died.

Health experts say at least 15 percent of the nation’s adults have not had even a single shot and that creates “the greatest risk of severe illness and death from the Omicron variant, and could overwhelm hospitals that are already brimming with Covid patients.”

Write Jack Healy, Noah Welland, and Richard Fausset of The New York Times:

In the year since the first shots began going into arms, opposition to vaccines has hardened from skepticism and wariness into something approaching an article of faith for the approximately 39 million American adults who have yet to get a single dose.

But so far, the threat of Omicron is doing little to change people’s minds. Nearly 90 percent of unvaccinated adults said the variant would not spur them to get shots, according to a recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

And some of the unvaccinated said that Omicron’s wily ability to infect vaccinated people only reaffirmed their decision to not get the shot. Others say the virus’s changing nature has stiffened their resolve not to get it.

The remaining ranks of unvaccinated Americans steadfastly opposed to getting a shot tend to be younger, whiter and more Republican than those who have received the vaccine or are still considering one, surveys have shown.

When political idiocy supplants legitimate attempts to protect our community and, particularly, our children, it is time to recognize such policies as outright murder.