Covid-19 kills vaccine critic: Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen

Washington Senate Republican Leader John Braun released a statement confirming the death of Republican state Sen. Doug Ericksen, who was a vocal critic of coronavirus vaccine mandates and died from the virus.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, whom Ericksen called on to resign over pandemic restrictions, issued a statement on behalf of himself and his wife, Trudi Inslee. “Trudi and I send our deep condolences to Doug’s family, friends and colleagues. Our hearts are with them.”

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker each tested positive for the coronavirus, according to tweets Sunday from their official accounts but the Massachusetts Democrat and the New Jersey Democrat are both vaccinated, boosted, and experiencing mild symptoms.

Former Republican Alaska governor Sarah Palin electrified a crowd of conservatives over the weekend by boasting it will be “over my dead body” before she gets vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The US is now facing a resurgent coronavirus as the emergence of the Omicron variant has thrust the nation — and the White House — back into an uncertain pandemic reality, posing both public health and political challenges.

The country marches into its third year with the pandemic averaging 126,967 new cases per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — up from an average of just more than 70,000 new cases per day at the beginning of November.

According to the World Health Organization, Omicron cases are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days with documented spread. And in the US, it’s expected to become the “dominant strain” in the coming weeks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday.

“It’s going to take over,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, speaking about the Omicron variant, while urging Americans to get vaccinated, get their booster shots, “And be prudent in everything else you do: When you travel in your indoor settings that are congregated, wear a mask.”

Ericksen died Friday at age 52 only weeks after he reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus while abroad.

Ericksen’s family confirmed his death in a statement. Ericksen is survived by his wife, Tasha, and two daughters, Addi and Elsa.

Almost one month ago, Democratic Representative Sharon Shewmake—the only economist in the Washington state legislature—announced that she is running against Ericksen to represent Whatcom County’s 42nd Legislative District.

The lawmaker told his Republican colleagues he tested positive while on a trip to El Salvador in November, according to local media reports, and asked them for guidance in securing monoclonal antibodies, a treatment for covid-19 that has been shown to be effective at preventing severe disease.

Former state lawmaker Luanne Van Werven (R) later in November told the Bellingham Herald that Ericksen was evacuated from El Salvador and was in stable condition at a Florida hospital. The location of his death was not provided.

There are different types of the COVID-19 vaccine available to people in different age groups and although vaccinated people can get ‘breakthrough’ infections, those cases tend to be milder and less severe. Those with dangerous sickness are almost all people who failed to get vaccinated, according to experts studying the pandemic and public health officials.

The vaccine works by “teaching” the body’s immune system how to make antibodies specifically against the virus that causes COVID-19. These antibodies give a person’s body a better chance of fighting the virus if it comes into contact with someone who has the highly transmissible disease.

All three vaccines have been closely studied by researchers for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. 

Since FDA EUA approval of all three vaccines in December 2020, millions of people in the United States have received the shots.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for people ages 16 and older and authorized for people 5 to 15 years old.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA continue to monitor all vaccines for safety, but long-term side effects are unlikely. Serious allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare.

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