As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly in states across America, Republican lawmakers appear to be changing their tunes about the coronavirus vaccine.
According to Politico, there is a growing divide among Republican lawmakers now expressing concern about the resurgence of the virus, versus those who sow doubt about the push for more Americans to be vaccinated.
The publication reports that the divide widened on Capitol Hill this week "with a contingent of prominent conservatives vocally advocating for the shots — even as others emphasized the need for the GOP to stick to principles of 'individual liberty' and stay out of Americans' medical decisions."
A news conference that was supposed to be based on doctors in Congress discussing the Delta variant morphed into a heated debate centered on some lawmakers' beliefs that the virus escaped from a Wuhan lab.
"That is their choice," Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) said when asked whether or not Republican lawmakers should raise awareness about the COVID vaccination. "It is our patriotic duty to care for other people, but it is also our patriotic duty to understand that we have individual rights in this country."
Other Republican lawmakers have also criticized the Biden administration's door-to-door vaccination initiative. However, one senior official recently pushed back against the scrutiny. "This has profound consequences," a senior administration official said of Republicans' hostility toward the initiative. "You're putting people in harm's way, and this is damn serious. This is as serious as we've been at."
The divide comes just one week after reports began circulating about the "wave of opposition" sweeping the Republican Party. Despite the alarming rise in new COVID cases, conservative news outlets and members of the Republican Party have continued to spread misinformation.
"The wave of opposition to Covid vaccines has risen within the Republican Party, as conservative news outlets produce a steady diet of misinformation about vaccines and some G.O.P. lawmakers invite anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists to testify in statehouses and Congress. With very little resistance from party leaders, these Republican efforts have elevated falsehoods and doubts about vaccinations from the fringes of American life to the center of our political conversation."
As of Friday, July 23, COVID cases were rising in all 50 states. In fact, some states are also back to reporting thousands of new cases per day.