Less than half of all Kentucky residents are vaccinated against the coronavirus. And Mitch McConnell is trying to do something about it.
The Senate minority leader is set to start running 60-second ads on 100 radio stations in the state to educate people on the vaccine and urge them to get the shot(s). (McConnell is paying for the ads out of his campaign account, where, as of the end of 2020, he had almost $7 million in the bank.)
“Not enough people are vaccinated,” McConnell told Reuters of his decision to spend his campaign cash on the education effort. “So we’re trying to get them to reconsider and get back on the path to get us to some level of herd immunity.”
That is a very good thing – particularly given that the Delta variant of Covid-19 is ravaging the unvaccinated in America. Not only is less than half of Kentucky vaccinated, but cases also have gone up 193% in just the last two weeks, according to data from The New York Times. (That’s the 15th fastest growth rate in the country.)
McConnell has also been – even before the ads – a leading voice, particularly among Republicans, for vaccinations. That’s explained at least in part by the fact that he contracted polio as a child. He’s spoken movingly about the impact it had on his life – and has long been a vaccine advocate.
The Kentucky Republican has also expressed frustration with the public’s inability to reach herd immunity – although he has been unwilling to note the obvious role conservative media has played in driving vaccine skepticism.
“To use a sports analogy, we’re in the red zone, the last 20 yards before the end zone, but we’re not in the end zone yet because there is resistance for various reasons that seem to have gotten caught up in politics,” McConnell said earlier this month.
The Point: I’ve been plenty critical of McConnell – particularly for the decisive role he played in submarining an independent commission on the January 6 riot. But on the vaccine front, he has been consistent. And deserves credit.