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Texas' Pandemic Response Is Tangled Up In Culture Wars (And No One Is Surprised)

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels CC0: https://bit.ly/2WTlMZG

At first it seemed the global pandemic could be a unifying moment; a universal experience to bring us all together. But with each passing week, the virus is less of a common enemy and more of a magnifying glass for existing inequalities and partisan divides.

America is now fully embroiled in coronavirus controversies and no one does culture wars better than Texas.

Pandemic response measures have become politicized. Face mask requirements and distancing guidelines are considered an affront to individual liberties; an outright ban on xenophobic rhetoric can be seen as infringing on First Amendment rights; and extending protective shut-down orders to places of worship contradictory to principles of religious freedom. 

Why has a public health crisis become so political? Why is science suspect? Do partisan leanings influence beliefs about coronavirus? What are the most notorious flash points of this pandemic polarization?

How could pandemic-related controversies affect overall health outcomes? What are the potential political implications of these contentious issues in Texas and beyond?

Guests:

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call  833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, May 13.

Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.