We no longer come back to masks and confinements
Are we really starting over? Are we really talking about going back to masking? Again?
Last weekend, Los Angeles County reinstated its mask mandate for indoor environments. More than 60 percent of the county is fully vaccinated, but the mandate applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
The move is absurd in several ways. For starters, it casts a shadow over vaccines. If the vaccination works, why do the vaccinees need to be masked? And if we always have to be masked after vaccination, why would anyone take the vaccines? The vaccinated are protected, and the unvaccinated have had time to be vaccinated. We must move forward.
But beyond that, there is the additional question of whether the mask warrants have made a difference in containing COVID.
In March, when Texas and Mississippi abandoned their mask mandates, President Joe Biden called the measures “Neanderthal thinking” and said it was too early to stop wearing masks. Blue Check media predicted a COVID holocaust in those states. This does not happen. The number of cases plummeted in the months following the end of terms of office.
But, as I always wrote in these pages, we wore masks anyway.
In May 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo said a “shocking” 66% of people hospitalized with COVID contracted it at home. The New York mask tenure had started on April 15, 2020. Another 24% of patients by that time had also contracted it in their living situation, whether it was a nursing home or a prison.
That did not change when the closures were relaxed. In December 2020, the New York contact tracing operation showed that “70% of new COVID-19 cases were from households and small gatherings.” And in October, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said it was “small family gatherings” largely leading to the spike in Garden State cases.
He did not pass by anyone in the street. It wasn’t shopping, exercising, or going to school. It was usually close contact inside homes that continued to spread COVID. Bringing back masks to low-risk situations will do exactly nothing to prevent the spread of COVID in situations like reunions with family and friends.
So why do we keep reverting to ineffective mitigation measures like masking in public spaces? It’s like we have a mental block around reality that masking like this is largely unnecessary.
Sometimes after my 5 year old has a spill he will ask for a bandage even though nothing is bleeding. It makes him feel better, so I stick some Batman Band-Aid wherever he wants. But I also don’t stick the Batman bandages on his siblings, just in case. I don’t force everyone around him to use bandages for relief his mental anguish: the equivalent of fearful people forcing us to wear masks again.
“But shouldn’t we do it, just in case?” People ask me. No, we shouldn’t. Unnecessary measures and rules are one of the reasons there is so much mistrust of vaccines now.
We were told to do unnecessary things for our own good. We knew these things were irrational, but the rules were the rules: New York City closed playgrounds and green spaces but opened up city streets alongside those closed playgrounds and green spaces. It was ridiculous, and everyone knew it. We can no longer go down the stupid road again.