The Rest of the Story

CULLMAN, USA - AUGUST 21: Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at a major rally hosted by the Alabama Republican Party and in conjunction with the Alabama Republican Party's Summer Meeting to support the MAGA agenda in C... CULLMAN, USA - AUGUST 21: Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at a major rally hosted by the Alabama Republican Party and in conjunction with the Alabama Republican Party's Summer Meeting to support the MAGA agenda in Cullman, Alabama in Cullman, AL, United States on August 21, 2021. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) MORE LESS

The Washington Post has written up this story of an Alabama man who needed an ICU bed to treat a cardiac issue and none could be found for him in his home state. His home town hospital in Cullman, Alabama contacted 43 other hospitals in the state but none had room for him. He was eventually airlifted to a hospital in neighboring Mississippi where he died. The story garnered attention because his family included a plea for people to get vaccinated in Ray DeMonia’s obituary.

But there’s one detail about this story – or at least arguable tied to the story – that the Post doesn’t mention. Cullman, Alabama was the site of what the Alabama state GOP billed as the largest political rally in Alabama history just a couple days before DeMonia went to the hospital. The state GOP claimed 50,000 turned out for the rally in Cullman. Few if any seemed to be masked.

The August 21st rally in Cullman was actually the one where Trump made a low energy pitch for vaccinations only to get booed by the crowd. He appeared to back away from it in real time in response to the crowd. You probably remember it. DeMonia was admitted to Cullman Regional Medical Center two days later on August 23rd. He died at a hospital in Mississippi on September 1st.

Given the short gap in time, clearly Trump’s visit didn’t cause the surge in hospitalizations that forced DeMonia’s doctors to evacuate him west to Mississippi. But there’s no doubt the climate of COVID denial and lo-fi anti-vaccine politics Trump has brought in his wake did contribute mightily to it. Alabama is the fourth least vaccinated state in the country. And Trump’s visit probably didn’t do any favors for Alabama hospitals in the subsequent three weeks.

DeMonia was 73 and, according to his daughter, was fully vaccinated.

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