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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With COVID-19’s Omicron variant spreading rapidly, Pennsylvania health officials and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf have been urging residents of the Keystone State to get vaccinated if they haven’t done so already — and booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. But Rep. Leslie Rossi, a far-right MAGA Republican who serves in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, is pandering to anti-vaxxers by offering “vaccination exemption assistance” in her district.

Rossi, who represents an area of Western Pennsylvania where hospitals area being overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections, offered her “assistance” in a newsletter.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Deb Erdley explains, “State Rep. Leslie Rossi, R-Unity, said she offered help to those seeking vaccination exemptions in response to growing inquiries from fearful constituents in her district, which includes portions of eastern Westmoreland and western Somerset Counties. Her newsletter landed in local mailboxes as Westmoreland County emergency management officials warned of a ‘desperate’ situation in local hospitals, where COVID-19 infections have surged among unvaccinated residents, sparking overcrowding in emergency rooms and a scarcity of beds in inpatient and intensive care units.”

Dr. Carol Fox, who serves as chief medical officer of Excela Health, told the Tribune-Review, “It is important to do all that can be done to prevent individuals from contracting COVID-19.”That includes getting vaccinated, getting booster shots and wearing protective face masks in public places." Rossi, however, insists on pandering to anti-vaxxers.

Rossi is the wingnut who created the Trump House, a cultish shrine to former President Donald Trump in Youngstown, Pennsylvania, which is in Westmoreland County and shouldn’t be confused with Youngstown, Ohio. Westmoreland County is part of the Greater Pittsburgh Area, although Pittsburgh is in neighboring Allegheny County.

According to Erdley, “Thousands of vaccine-eligible residents in Westmoreland and Somerset Counties have yet to be fully vaccinated…. The most recent COVID-19 report from the Pennsylvania Department of Health pegged deaths among Westmoreland County residents at 1027 since March 2020, when the pandemic arrived. Excela’s weekly report for December 2 underscored the health threats unvaccinated individuals face. That week, the hospital system reported 88 individuals hospitalized at Excela hospitals in Greensburg, Latrobe and Mt. Pleasant. Only nine of those individuals were fully vaccinated, and not one of the 13 individuals on ventilators was fully vaccinated.”

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Jessica Cisneros

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