GOP lawmakers are trying to kill COVID safety measures a year into the pandemic


Despite the staggering death toll, some Republican state lawmakers don't want to allow critical public health protocols to remain in place.

Almost a year from the start of a global health outbreak, Republican state lawmakers are still attempting to prevent their own GOP governors from curbing the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans so far.

In Idaho, GOP Gov. Brad Little earlier this month was forced to push back on several legislative efforts to end his coronavirus emergency declaration and take away certain privileges reserved for the governor in such situations, as well as attempts to undermine his authority by his own Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has suggested his safety measures are unnecessary to battle the pandemic, which she has claimed "may or may not be occurring."

Little denounced those efforts, saying that "the 'no action' alternative has never been an option."

"Pretending there is no COVID-19 emergency — as some in the Idaho Legislature are doing right now — will have devastating impacts on lives, our healthcare heroes who are protecting families and our economy," Little said.

In January, 30 legislators, backed by McGeachin, had pushed for an "Idaho Conservative Agenda" to roll back certain safety measures, including mask-wearing, hand-washing, and limiting of indoor gatherings.

"It's a list of items that we think are very important to do for Idaho families and businesses," state Rep. Ron Nate said at the time.

Republican governors are facing similar pushback from their own parties in other states as well, despite the overwhelming case numbers across the country and ever-growing COVID-19 death toll.

On Wednesday, Ohio Republican state legislators introduced a bill that would allow the legislature to override any of Gov. Mike DeWine's emergency declarations and executive orders to curtail the coronavirus. DeWine had previously issued a statewide curfew, as well as mask, social-distancing, and stay-at-home orders to combat the pandemic.

And in New Hampshire, Republican state legislators introduced 18 bills in January to restrict Gov. Chris Sununu’s emergency authority to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans pushed back against the governor's safety measures, which included emergency orders on face coverings.

Arizona's Republican state senators voted similarly on Monday to advance five bills giving the legislature more power in emergencies and curbing those of Gov. Doug Ducey, who had implemented a number of executive orders on public health measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Top GOP state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita said in a statement that her fellow Republicans "unanimously supported the concept of limiting the abuse of executive emergency powers."

Ducey, for his part, has defended his actions. "The reason there's a public health emergency (declaration) is because we're in a public health emergency," he said.

Republican state lawmakers across the country have been leading the charge against COVID-19 safety measures for nearly a year now, attempting to undercut and overrule their own governors' efforts to keep people from becoming infected.

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first implemented stay-at-home orders last March as the virus first began to take hold in the United States, prompting backlash from the state's Republican-controlled legislature.

In New Hampshire, at least 10 Republican legislators fought against Sununu's social distancing orders and his decision to limit gatherings last April, signing a petition calling for the protocols to be lifted.

That same month, Republican lawmakers on the state's Legislative Coordinating Council revoked Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's order to include religious services among the mass gatherings limited to 10 people, arguing that it violated their religious freedom. The state Supreme Court later upheld Kelly's ban after she appealed the legislature's decision.

In Virginia, Republican lawmakers pushed last spring for Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to end social distancing measures, with some even pushing unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about why the governor implemented the measures in the first place.

And in November, state Rep. Amanda Chase posted a video on Facebook in which she downplayed the threat of the coronavirus and pushed blatantly false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines, mask efficacy, and the rising death toll.

According to a press release by the Democratic Governors Association, Chase claimed, among other things, that "hospital workers are overreporting COVID-19 deaths for financial gain" and that "the COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured in China so she won’t be getting one."

There is zero proof to back those claims.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.