Ted Cruz selling bizarre self-portrait tank top as experts warn of spring break Covid risk | #dating | #elderly | #seniors
In his latest contribution to the partisan culture war over anti-coronavirus measures continues, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is selling a spring break-friendly tank top bearing his own image – even as young Americans are warned that spring break trips could be a Covid-19 risk.
The top, sold via Mr Cruz’s office and promoted on his official twitter feed, features an unflatteringly jowly drawing of Mr Cruz with the side of his head shaven – a signature haircut of the grassroots pro-Trump right. Above and below him are the words “McConnell in the front” and “MAGA in the back”.
In a tweet promoting the $30 shirt, the senator invited supporters to join the so-called “#CruzCrew”. Some who saw the tank top for sale could barely believe their eyes, with senior Bulwark editor Jim Swift simply tweeting “wut”; to ram home the point that his office was indeed selling the tops, Mr Cruz sniped at another stunned journalist pointing to the brash garment: “At least include the link.”
Mr Cruz is a longtime critic of social distancing restrictions and mask mandates, which he last month mocked in a high-energy speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. He is hardly alone in this among Republicans, and among his fellow travellers is Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida – the US’s most beloved spring break destination.
The mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber, has accused Mr DeSantis of sending “mixed messages” in the run up to spring break, complaining that thanks to relaxed rhetoric from the top, south Florida must now contend with “too many people coming that want to just let loose in ways that are unacceptable” – amid the risk of highly contagious variants spreading around the country.
While many states and cities across the US are still imposing compulsory anti-coronavirus rules, the prospect of widespread spring-break travel and mass gatherings in the name of spring break is deeply concerning for public health experts. Government adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has cautioned that given the US has not yet fully turned the tide on the virus, it is extremely worrying to see people travelling and gathering in large numbers – especially given that the accelerated vaccination programme means that things may soon be much safer.
Reflecting on his warnings that young people are not immune from the virus and can still spread it to others even if they do not become seriously ill, Dr Fauci told PBS news that young people had a crucial role to play in keeping the pandemic from getting out of control again.
“One of the things that stimulated me to make [my] statement about appealing and pleading to the younger generation is that I see those pictures of people frolicking around at a bar.
“And we know it’s spring break in many cases. You’re young. You feel you’re invulnerable. You want to have a good time. I get that. I was young at one time, and I enjoyed doing that.
“But this is – this is a very unique situation we are in. You can almost make it analogous to what was happening in a war, when everyone was called upon to just step to the plate and do something extraordinary.”
For now, that “something extraordinary” means respecting the risks that come with socialising in public, and in particular avoiding areas where mask mandates and social distancing requirements are loose or absent – south Florida among them.
As things stand, Florida has already seen thousands of young Americans arrive for the spring season flooding onto beaches and drinking heavily in huge groups.
And the resultant problems are bad enough without the coronavirus to contend with. The South Beach area saw more than 1,000 arrests and 100 gun seizures over the last week, with dangerous stampedes and fights breaking out in crowded streets – and two men from North Carolina have been charged with drugging and raping a woman who later died.