The Delta variant is hitting red states hardest as the US’s vaccine divide widens

anti vaccine trump rally
A protester holds an anti-vaccine sign as supporters of President Donald Trump rally in Woodland Hills, California, on May 16, 2020.

  • The Delta variant is sickening people most in unvaccinated, heavily Republican “red” states.
  • Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wyoming have seen upticks in cases and hospitalizations.
  • But the variant has had little effect in blue states like Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US’s daily coronavirus cases have soared 60% in the last two weeks as the Delta variant strengthens its hold on the country. Delta now accounts for more than half of US cases, making it the dominant strain nationwide.

But the variant isn’t hitting all states equally. Delta cases have risen primarily in states with low vaccination rates, which for the most part are heavily Republican – “red” states like Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wyoming. Overall, these states have seen higher upticks in daily cases and hospitalizations than “blue” states that voted Democratic in the 2020 election.

In Missouri, for instance, daily cases have risen around 75% in the last two weeks, from around 800 to 1,400 cases per day. Hospitalizations have also risen 34% during that time, from around 830 to 1,100 per day. Delta has made up nearly 70% of all coronavirus cases there over the last two months, according to data compiled by Scripps Research’s Outbreak.info tracker. Less than half of Missouri residents (around 46%) have received at least one vaccine dose so far – well below the US average of 56%.

But Vermont, where nearly 75% of residents have received at least one dose, has reported just five daily cases and five daily hospitalizations in the last two weeks. Delta made up less than 1% of coronavirus cases there in the last two months.

Other blue states, like Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, have also reported some of the lowest case numbers and highest vaccination rates in the country. In each of these states, Delta has represented less than 10% of overall cases in the last two months, according to Outbreak.info.

“We’ve got to get away from the divisiveness,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told ABC on Sunday – a reference to the way the US’s vaccine divide falls along political lines.

Viruses, Fauci added, “don’t know the difference between a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent.”

Republicans are less likely than Democrats to trust vaccines

vermont covid-19 vaccine
A National Guard soldier gives a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination stand at the Vermont Creamery in Websterville, Vermont, on June 29, 2021.

Data collected by the New York Times shows that just 34% of people are fully vaccinated in an average US county that voted for Donald Trump, whereas 45% of people are fully vaccinated in an average county that voted for Joe Biden.

There are several reasons why vaccination rates are stalling in red states. For one, Republicans are more likely to believe that vaccines aren’t safe or that the shots aren’t necessary to protect their health, according to a June survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Additionally, Republican states also tend to be more rural, so access to shots may still prevent some people in those areas from getting immunized.

In Arkansas, for instance, around 42% of counties are rural. Research from Boston Children’s Hospital suggests that several Arkansas counties qualify as “vaccine deserts,” with the nearest COVID-19 vaccination site more than a 15-minute drive away. Just 43% of Arkansas residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

But the state’s health director, Dr. José Romero, blames the low vaccination rate on widespread vaccine hesitancy – not lack of access. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that rural residents are also significantly more vaccine hesitant than urban or suburban residents.

“We’ve done everything we can,” Romero told Insider. “We’ve made the vaccine available. We’ve gone the extra mile to make it pretty much on demand if you want it.”

arkansas vaccine campaign
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson watches an ad featuring former NBA star Sidney Moncrief that encourages people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, at the state capitol in Little Rock on May 20, 2021.

Delta has made up nearly 40% of Arkansas’ cases over the last two months – among the highest shares in the country. Romero said he has tried to remind residents that the variant poses “a much greater threat” than the original coronavirus strain.

An analysis from Public Health England found that Delta was associated with a 60% increased risk of household transmission relative to the Alpha variant discovered in the UK, though more recent estimates suggest the difference is closer to 40%. The Alpha variant is already about 50% more transmissible than the original strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers in Scotland also found that getting infected with the Delta variant doubled the risk of hospital admission relative to Alpha. (Previous studies have suggested that the Alpha variant may be 30% to 70% deadlier than the original strain.)

Vaccines, of course, significantly lower that risk, but it’s important to complete the full course. New research suggests that partially vaccinated people are more vulnerable to symptomatic Delta infections than they might be to other strains. A study published last week in the journal Nature found that a single dose of Pfizer’s vaccine was either weakly or not at all effective against the variant.

“It’s very clear that this is a nasty variant,” Fauci told ABC. “It has a much greater capability of transmitting from person to person.”

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White nationalist Nick Fuentes banned from annual gathering of top US conservatives but other far-right extremists were welcomed

Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) stage 2021
Conservative Political Action Conference stage.

  • Nick Fuentes was removed from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas on Saturday.
  • But several other far-right figures were seen at the event, including Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.
  • Donald Trump is due to speak at the conference on Sunday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Far-right white nationalist Nick Fuentes was removed from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas on Saturday.

Although organizers removed Fuentes from the event, a range of far-right figures have been seen attending the conference, including members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

CPAC is an annual gathering of top US conservatives, with former president Donald Trump due to speak on Sunday.

In a video posted to Twitter by Patriot Takes, Nick Fuentes can be seen outside CPAC with a group of his supporters chanting “Groyper.”

Groypers are a group of white nationalist and far-right activists, headed by Fuentes, whose goal is to bring far-right politics into mainstream conservatism.

In the video, Fuentes announced his plan to host a rival press conference, which he promised would be his “most unchained speech ever.”

“I’m off Twitter. I have nothing to lose. This is going to be the most racist, most sexist, the most anti-Semitic, the most Holocaust-denying speech in all of Dallas this weekend,” Fuentes said, to enthusiastic cheers from his supporters.

On Friday, Fuentes’ Twitter account was suspended for “repeated violations.”

The video shows Fuentes and his supporters walking into CPAC while chanting “America first” and “white boy summer.” Fuentes briefly gained access before being kicked out.

Although the 22-year-old agitator was barred from the event, members from other far-right groups were seen in attendance over the course of the weekend, including Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, and at least two members of the Proud Boys.

The Daily Beast reported that some CPAC attendees were openly boasting about participating in the Capitol insurrection.

“I’m here to instigate freedom like I did on the lawn on January 6 when I climbed the media tower while they shot tear gas at my feet,” Duane Schwingel, an activist who dresses up as a patriotic character called Uncle Jam, said, according to The Daily Beast.

QAnon merchandise was also seen on sale at the event.

A 7-point-plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president was also being handed out at CPAC.

The lineup of speakers included Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump allies.

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A 7-point-plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president ‘in days, not years’ was handed out at CPAC

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

  • A plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president circulated at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
  • The outlandish plan involves ousting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and replacing her with Trump.
  • The conspiracy theory that Trump will be reinstated as president is popular among his supporters.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas have been handed cards outlining a 7-point-plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president ‘in days, not years.

Forbes reporter Andrew Solender posted an image of the card on Twitter.

The cards seemed to have been made by a group called Patriots Soar, which was not affiliated with the event organizers.

The outlandish plan involves ousting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and eventually installing Donald Trump in her place.

Donald Trump as Speaker would then call for a vote to impeach, charge, and remove “imposters” President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

As the Speaker of the House is third in the line of presidential succession, Trump would then take up the presidency again in this highly improbable scenario.

The plan hinges upon Republicans regaining control of the House, which they plan to do by pulling back the curtain on “the horror show” of the Democrat Party, causing groups such as the Black Caucus to “flip” sides.

The card links to a website that elaborates on the madcap scheme to reinstate Trump and claims to have proof connecting the Democrat party to satanic sacrifices.

The messaging alludes to popular QAnon-affiliated conspiracy theories that accuse the Democrat party of secret satanic abuse. A recent study found that around a quarter of Republicans believe that Satan-worshiping pedophiles control the US government.

The conspiracy theory that Trump will soon be reinstated as president has been popularised by prominent supporters, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and the lawyer Sidney Powell.

The card also refers to the widely debunked conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was fraudulent, which has been rejected dozens of times in court.

Insider has previously reported that there is no legal path for Trump to be reinstated.

CPAC, an annual gathering of top US conservatives, is taking place in Dallas this weekend. Donald Trump is scheduled to speak on Sunday.

Other speakers include Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump allies such as former Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina.

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GOP Sen. Marco Rubio slams Didi’s US listing as ‘reckless and irresponsible’ – and calls it an unaccountable Chinese company

marco rubio ufo report
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio blasted the “reckless and irresponsible” decision to grant Didi’s US listing in an FT interview.
  • He called Didi “unaccountable” as China’s government blocks US regulators from reviewing its accounts.
  • “That puts the investments of American retirees at risk and funnels desperately needed US dollars into Beijing,” Rubio said.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Sen. Marco Rubio slammed the “reckless and irresponsible” decision to allow Chinese ride-hailing app maker Didi to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, speaking in a statement reported by the Financial Times Wednesday.

Rubio, one of the US government’s most vocal China critics, described Didi as an “unaccountable Chinese company,” and said Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the tech provider, which sent the stock lower, highlights the risks for US investors.

Didi’s share price plunged more than 19% on Tuesday, after Chinese authorities at the weekend ordered app stores to remove its app from their platforms. The country’s internet regulator earlier launched a review of its data security, and ordered it to stop registering new users.

“Even if the stock rebounds, American investors still have no insight into the company’s financial strength because the Chinese Communist party blocks US regulators from reviewing the books,” Rubio told the FT. “That puts the investments of American retirees at risk and funnels desperately needed US dollars into Beijing.”

The type of business structure used by Didi “deprives foreign investors of vital legal protections they would otherwise enjoy through equity ownership,” the Council of Institutional Investors said in a 2017 paper.

The Republican senator’s comments suggest that Didi’s IPO saga could fuel new efforts by US lawmakers to place tougher hurdles in the way of Chinese companies seeking listings in the US.

Last year, former President Donald Trump signed legislation that banned Chinese companies from being listed on US markets unless they conformed to American accounting standards.

The “Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act” applies to companies from any country, but the sponsors of the law are seen as targeting it at Chinese companies listed in the US, such as Jack Ma’s Alibaba, tech firm Pinduoduo, and oil giant PetroChina.

Didi’s stock was last trading 4% lower in the pre-market session on Wednesday around 6.30 a.m. ET at $11.97 per share.

Read More: Goldman Sachs names 30 stocks to buy for double-digit revenue growth in 2022 – and 4 sectors expected to beat the S&P 500’s sales growth

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claims that some Republican lawmakers were ‘in on’ the Capitol riot and shouldn’t sit on the investigative committee

AOC
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday, August 24, 2020.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned her Democratic colleagues to “be careful” about which Republicans they allow to sit on the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
  • “There are indications that some of these folks were in on it, & we can’t have them be a part of the investigation,” she tweeted.
  • Just two House Republicans voted for the committee after the party torpedoed a bipartisan commission last month.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned her Democratic colleagues to “be careful” about which Republicans they allow to sit on the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 capitol riot because she claimed some GOP members “were in on it.”

On Wednesday, the House voted almost entirely along party lines to form a select committee to investigate the events of Jan. 6. The 13-member committee will be comprised of eight members selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and five selected “after consultation with the minority leader.” Republicans, who torpedoed a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot, called the select committee “rigged from the start.”

“We need a Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6th domestic terrorist attack,” the congresswoman tweeted on Wednesday night. “But we must also be careful about any Republicans that may serve on the committee. There are indications that some of these folks were in on it, & we can’t have them be a part of the investigation.”

A slew of Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Andrew Clyde, have attempted to minimize the Capitol riot and spread conspiracy theories about the events.

Since January, Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly said that she and some of her Democratic colleagues don’t feel safe around certain Republican members, including those who’ve voiced support for dangerous conspiracy theories like QAnon and lied about the outcome of the 2020 election.

Other lawmakers, including Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, have suggested that Republican members of Congress were implicated in the deadly Capitol attack. Cheney was one of just two House Republicans to vote for the select committee on Wednesday.

Cheney, who was ousted from GOP leadership for repeatedly blaming Trump for the riot, has said that members of her party are worried about found guilty of encouraging or otherwise being involved with the attack.

“There is real concern among a number of members of my own party about a January 6 commission,” Cheney said. “That kind of intense, narrow focus threatens people in my party who may have been playing a role they should not have been playing.”

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Republican Sen. Rob Portman says Trump is ‘definitely the leader of the party’

senator rob portman of ohio
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

  • GOP Sen. Rob Portman said former president Trump is “definitely” the leader of the party.
  • He cited his popularity “among the Republican base,” Portman said on ABC’s “This Week.”
  • His comments come after Trump’s first rally post-White House in Ohio Saturday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said former President Donald Trump is “definitely” the leader of the GOP in an interview Sunday morning.

During an interview on ABC’s “This Week” anchor, Jonathan Karl asked Portman if Trump is “the effective leader of the Republican Party?”

“He’s definitely the leader of the party in the sense that he has high popularity among the Republican base, and that’s what you saw last night. You saw a big turnout,” said Portman.

Trump spoke at a rally in Wellington, Ohio, on Saturday in front of thousands, where he boosted fraudulent claims about the 2020 election. He also called Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez – one of the few Republicans who voted in favor to impeach him after the Capitol insurrection – a “disgrace.”

Portman said the focus of the Republican party and Trump should be on obtaining the majority in the House and Senate.

“Let’s focus on the policies that worked and also on what’s not working now,” Portman continued. “So that’s what I would focus on and not the other stuff.”

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A Republican congressman refused to shake hands with a DC police officer beaten by Trump loyalists on Jan. 6, according to 2 House members

D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone, addresses the media after a meeting with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to urge Republican senators to support a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6th attack on the Capitol, on Thursday, May 27, 2021.
D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone, addresses the media after a meeting with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to urge Republican senators to support a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6th attack on the Capitol, on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

  • Rep. Andrew Clyde refused to shake hands with Michael Fanone, a DC police officer who was assaulted on Jan. 6.
  • Two members of Congress shared Fanone’s story on Tuesday via Twitter.
  • “Fanone introduced himself as ‘someone who fought to defend the Capitol’ and put out his hand,” Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Georgia Republican who has downplayed the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, refused to shake hands with Michael Fanone, a Washington, DC Metropolitan police officer who was assaulted by pro-Trump rioters while protecting the Capitol, two members of Congress announced on Wednesday.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, tweeted that Fanone approached Clyde at the Capitol and introduced himself as “someone who fought to defend the Capitol,” but Clyde refused to shake his outstretched hand. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, tweeted shortly after that he’d called Fanone and “confirmed” the story.

“Officer Fanone just ran into @Rep_Clyde at Capitol (he’s the “Jan 6 was a typical tour” guy). Fanone introduced himself as ‘someone who fought to defend the Capitol’ and put out his hand,” Swalwell tweeted. “Clyde refused to shake it. To honor Trump, @housegop will dishonor the police.”

Kinzinger added that the officer told him he also had a “disrespectful” interaction with a different lawmaker’s chief of staff.

“I just called Officer Fanone and confirmed this story. This is really incredible,” Kinzinger tweeted. “Also relayed an interaction he had with another members [sic] Chief of Staff that was really incredibly bad and disrespectful.”

Clyde has repeatedly downplayed the events of Jan. 6 and claimed during a hearing last month that many of the rioters behaved like they were on a “normal tourist visit.” The congressman also insisted there was “no insurrection,” and instead “an undisciplined mob” that included “some rioters” and some who committed vandalism. Clyde’s attempt to minimize the Capitol riot is particularly notable because he was photographed helping barricade the doors to the House floor from inside the chamber as pro-Trump rioters attempted to smash them down.

A spokesperson for Clyde didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Fanone also said that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has refused to meet with him. Fanone, who suffered a heart attack after he was repeatedly stun gunned and beaten by rioters, advocated for the bipartisan commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6 before Republicans sunk the effort. The officer called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to block the commission “absolutely disgraceful.”

“I was absolutely sickened,” he told CNN after meeting with the mother of a Capitol police officer who died after the riot. “You know, here I am escorting the mother of a dead policeman, while she and myself advocate for the formation of a commission to investigate the circumstances which resulted in her son’s death.”

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Texans elect the first Republican mayor of McAllen, a majority Latino border city, in 24 years

Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to media from his car wearing a, "Make America Great Again," hat during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas.
Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to media from his car wearing a, “Make America Great Again,” hat during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas.

  • Texans elected three new Republican mayors over the weekend, building on the GOP’s significant 2020 gains among Hispanic voters.
  • The border city of McAllen, Texas, which is about 85% Latino, elected its first GOP mayor in 24 years.
  • Last year, Trump and the GOP saw a major surge in Latino support in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Texans elected three new Republican mayors in heavily Latino cities over the weekend, building on the GOP’s significant 2020 gains among Hispanic voters.

Most notably, the border city of McAllen, Texas, which is about 85% Latino, elected its first GOP mayor in 24 years. Javier Villalobos, a city commissioner and former chairman of the Hidalgo County GOP, won about 200 more votes than Democrat Veronica Vela Whitacre in Saturday’s runoff election. Republican mayoral candidates also won their races in Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas.

Last year, Trump and the GOP saw a major surge in Latino support in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, long a Democratic stronghold. While Hillary Clinton won the region by 39 points in 2016, President Joe Biden won it by just 15 points. Latino turnout grew by about 30% in 2020.

Trump flipped five Latino-majority Texas counties last year, almost doubling his vote count in McAllen, doubling his support in the 94% Latino Zapata County, and sharply boosting his numbers in Hidalgo County, where McAllen, one of the region’s biggest cities, is located.

The GOP’s gains among Hispanic voters in 2020 wasn’t limited to Texas. The party saw a surge of about 8 percent among Latinos in 2020 across a range of states, including Arizona, Florida, New York, California, and Texas. Colombian-American and Venezuelan-American voters moved most sharply to the right, but the increased GOP support came from a range of Latino communities.

There are a slew of likely reasons why Latino voters, particularly women, are swinging towards the GOP. Recent polling and focus groups have found that GOP messaging on immigration and public safety issues was particularly effective among certain Latino communities.

Democratic pollster David Shor has found that Latino voters moved away from Biden and towards Trump when they were reminded of Democrats’ positions on immigration policy. Shor and others have also found that Latinos who voted for Clinton in 2016 and Trump in 2020 were much more likely to have conservative views on crime, public safety, and policing. Some experts believe that the GOP’s argument that Democratic policies hurt public safety — and the left’s calls to “defund the police” — helped push many Latino voters to the GOP column last year.

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People are buying pins and t-shirts on Etsy that say ‘Not a Republican, just vaccinated’ now that mask mandates are going away

Screenshot of an Etsy store  listing pins that read "vaccinated" and "not a Republican, just vaccinated."
CoolGiftAtelier sells more neutral “vaccinated” pins, but the political ones are more popular.

  • As more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine, some cities and states are lifting mask mandates.
  • Now some people are looking for news ways to signal their support for COVID-19 precautions.
  • “Not a Republican, just vaccinated” merch is popping up on Etsy and one seller said they are her bestsellers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As mask mandates lift, people are looking for new ways to signal that they’re taking precautions against COVID-19 – and that they’re not conservative.

An Etsy search for vaccine-related merchandise turns up countless results for t-shirts and wearable button pins, many with a simple “vaccinated” message. But look a little further and there are dozens of items with some version of the following message: “Not a Republican, just vaccinated.”

Masks, and especially mask mandates, have been a divisive, politically charged topic almost since the pandemic began. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first began recommending them to curb the spread of COVID-19 in April of last year.

Read more: Etsy is awash with illicit products it claims to ban, from ivory to dangerous weapons and mass-produced goods

Since then, anti-mask rhetoric has largely come from citizens and politicians on the right side of the aisle. The states that never had mask mandates, or had them for a very brief time period, are almost exclusively red states. But since the CDC updated its recommendations, mask mandates are dropping in most places.

Caroline, who is based in Miami, Florida, and owns the Etsy shop CoolGiftAtelier, said she received a custom request a couple of weeks ago from a customer interested in one of her pins that featured a rainbow and said, “Vaccinated, You can hug me.” Instead, the customer asked for the message: “Not Republican, just vaccinated.”

Caroline said she didn’t totally understand why someone would ask for that message because she has been so busy with her kids and her three Etsy shops, but she was happy to fulfill the customer’s request. She also noticed there were already shirts being sold with the message, but no pins.

“Then, as soon as the listing was created, something odd happened: my phone started sending notifications one after the other. 1 heart, 2 hearts, 3 hearts… A lot of people were adding the pin to their favorites,” she told Insider in a message.

“Then the sales kicked in. I think I received almost 50 orders in 1 day. A record for my brand new little Etsy shop,” Caroline said.

Screenshot of Etsy listings of pins and t-shirts that read "Not a Republican, just vaccinated."
CoolGiftAtelier’s most popular pins read: “Not a Republican, just vaccinated.”

She listed even more designs with the message and they have become her bestsellers.

More Etsy stores are picking up on the trend, with lots of new listings popping up. The reviews for the pins are glowing as well, with people saying things like, “So cute and much needed!” and “Such a cute pin! And sooooo needed LOL! I can’t be mistaken for a you know what!!”

Katie, an Etsy shopper who left one of the glowing reviews, told Insider she wanted the pin because “there was a fear of people misconstruing my intent when I do not have a mask on or pulled up.”

Now that she is vaccinated, she does not always wear her mask when she is in spaces that are not very crowded or are outdoors, but she doesn’t want people to think she is anti-mask or anti-vax, both of which have been associated with conservatives.

“It is very important to me that others know where I stand on politics, health issues, and racial injustice,” she said. “I do not want others to assume that I am Republican because I would never want anyone to think I would do something so careless towards them like not wear a mask without being vaccinated.”

Caroline said she believes many of her customers feel the same way, especially the ones who opt for the non-Republican pins over the far more neutral “vaccinated” ones that she offers. She pointed out the extremely mixed reactions to President Joe Biden’s May 13 tweet: “The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”

“It’s easy to see how divided the nation is about this subject,” she said. “People are definitely afraid of others’ external assumptions.”

“This pin helps them communicate their ‘fully vaccinated status’ in a cute yet humorous political way,” she continued. “There is definitely a ‘belonging’ component.'”

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Biden tells Republicans who oppose a Capitol riot commission to ‘eat some chocolate chocolate chip’ ice cream

President Joe Biden poses for a photo with a girl after getting an ice cream at Honey Hut Ice Cream in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 27, 2021.
President Joe Biden poses for a photo with a girl after getting an ice cream at Honey Hut Ice Cream in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 27, 2021.

  • President Joe Biden made a surprise stop on Thursday at Honey Hut ice cream shop in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • With an ice cream cone in hand, he said he “couldn’t imagine” why Republicans are opposed to a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden made a surprise stop on Thursday at Honey Hut ice cream shop in Cleveland, Ohio.

Reporters at the scene were eager to know how the president felt about congressional Republicans rejecting the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Biden, famous for his love of ice cream, held up his cone and advised his colleagues across the aisle to “eat some chocolate chocolate chip.”

It was a joke, folks.

After cheers from the small crowd gathered around him, he added, “I can’t imagine anyone voting against establishing a commission on the greatest assault since the Civil War on the Capitol. But at any rate, I came for ice cream.”

Biden took another light-hearted swipe at Republicans during a speech at a Cleveland community college earlier on Thursday. He noted that not a single Republican lawmaker voted for his COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan, but many of them have since touted the benefits of the legislation to the constituents.

“I’m not going to embarrass any one of them, but I have – here – a list of how back in their districts, they’re bragging about the Rescue Plan,” Biden said, holding up a card listing the names of about a dozen lawmakers.

The crowd broke out in laughter.

He added, “I mean some people have no shame.”

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