In a nation where every home comprises at least one epidemiologist, one pulmonary specialist, and one pharmacist, it was bound to happen: all these experts pooled their many minutes of learning at Facebook College and the University of Fox News and made their decision—one best summarized by the Chicago woman who said this about masks: "...if you feel safer wearing it, then you should continue to wear it, but if you don't want to, you shouldn't have to."
She didn't add "and to hell with everyone else," but sometimes you know it's coming.
And so, after two years of hearing experts tell us that mask-wearing protects others even more than the wearers themselves, mask mandates will—with a few pen strokes—become a nice thing to do but certainly not mandatory. After all, the Omicron surge seems to be ending.
This folly is incomprehensible, even for a country determined to elect the worst people to high offices. It's as if you're managing a baseball team, and you've been losing the entire game, 10-0, but then 10-2, then 10-6. The writing is on the wall—you're going to win!—and so to celebrate, you sit all your good players and put in the subs. What could possibly go wrong?
The premature celebration appears to be our new attitude toward the pandemic: since we're trending in the right direction, let's all take a break and enjoy the freedom—the freedom we would actually have in another month if we didn't take that break.
No one will deny that the virus has been a grind, but we don't deserve a victory lap based on positive trends. Sports teams don't celebrate a win when they're winning; they celebrate a win when they've won. We all remember George W. Bush and the Mission Accomplished banner. Why did we never learn from it?
Maybe you're one of those who believe we've been visiting the bizarro world since March 2020. Don't pack your bags yet. You're not going home.
America is still losing 2500 victims a day to Covid, and though Connecticut is doing better than most states, our hospital ICU beds are 90% full. (The Hospital of Central Connecticut, as of yesterday, had 0.3 ICU beds left. I hope you're comfortable rounding that to zero because I don't know any people who are merely 30% of themselves.) And if doing better means averaging 1000 cases and 20 deaths a day in a small state like ours, that doesn't sound like victory any more than napalm smells like victory in Apocalypse Now—a suitably quotable movie.
And we're ready to chuck the masks?
I will forever believe that the Republican/Trumpian attitude toward the pandemic has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and that the Democrats' approach was more scientifically reasonable. But now the Democrats, as they are wont to do, have knuckled under to the home-grown disease experts who agree, like that woman in Chicago, that we should base our behavior on what's best for us.
After all, we've almost won. Why continue playing?