Axios treats Republican anti-vaccine push as matter of political “identity” instead of a threat to public health

Axios posted an article Monday on efforts by state Republican lawmakers to effectively put unvaccinated people in a protected class under civil rights laws. But the article, titled “Republicans push to ban ‘discrimination’ against unvaccinated people”, covers the Republican push as part of just another political narrative rather than an imminent threat to public health.

State Republican lawmakers around the country are pushing bills — at least one of which has become law — that would give unvaccinated people the same protections as those surrounding race, gender and religion.

Why it matters: These bills would tie the hands of private businesses that want to protect their employees and customers. But they also show how deep into the political psyche resistance to coronavirus vaccine requirements has become, and how vaccination status has rapidly become a marker of identity.

The big picture: On a national scale, well-known GOP figures have recently escalated their rhetoric about the vaccination effort, comparing it to Nazi Germany and apartheid.

The actual “big picture” here ought to be that dangerous variants of the virus are now spreading, while at the same time almost all new cases have been among the unvaccinated. Instead, Axios treats this story as one about partisan culture wars.

At the same time, Axios’ other news coverage has shown awareness that the variants pose a threat to public health — and even threaten economic recovery worldwide. But the site seems unable to connect the dots that this reality means the state lawmakers in question are in turn undermining public health and the economy.