By Jim Towey
If you have watched any college or professional football, you’ve seen packed stadiums, with spectators sitting next to each other for hours, screaming at the top of their lungs, cheering their teams to victory or lamenting their defeat. No one wears masks.
These visuals are jarring because they run contrary to all the public health messaging of the last 20 months. So why no penalty flag? Why haven’t COVID cases stormed the emergency rooms? The “inside” versus “outside” distinction on mask wearing doesn’t hold because people are crowded in bathrooms, tight concession spaces, herded on to ramps for the upper reaches, and so forth. That social contact is far more likely to spread infectious disease than the spacious lobby of an office building where DC’s mayor requires the wearing of masks. So what gives?
The masks on, masks off charade
I recently went to a homecoming event at a major university in New York. All of the so-called safety protocols were followed on stage in what has become a charade of sorts. Speakers were seated at a distance from each other. Only at the podium did any remove his or her mask. Once the prepared remarks were over, the masks went back on and stayed on, up until the event was over and the honorees gathered on the stage for a photo, all bunched together. Off came the masks – after all, no one wanted the photo to be spoiled by having unrecognizable faces, even if that meant supposedly risking their lives or the lives of others, as the experts suggest. Masks went back on as guests walked to the reception, and then, when people were packed together in a hall eating and drinking, inches from each other, not a mask was to be found, as if the danger of spreading COVID had disappeared in the face of wine and cheese.
It had the feel of one big mask-erade, or what some have called, “Covid theater.” Adults have figured all of this out. People now protect their own health, and others have been given ample opportunity to protect theirs, and all manage the risk that comes with their choices. Left unresolved is the question of why natural immunity continues to be dismissed by infectious disease experts. Now an Israeli study shows that natural immunity may be superior to vaccinations.
Masks undermine dignity
This morning in church I saw little children ordered by teachers to be seated six feet apart and masked up. It broke my heart. The data is beyond dispute – nearly no children have died from Covid, and those who did almost without exception had other medical complications. But practices that may have been understandable in the winter of 2020 have become irrational today. How confusing it must be for our youth to watch last weekend’s football games and wonder why the huge crowds weren’t masked, but that they must spend their outdoor recess masked?
Humans should not be masked unless there is a compelling and rational basis for it. It is an attack on dignity and personhood. And it is particularly objectionable that children are suffering because of these ill-advised policies.
Every day that a child is forced to mask to go to class is a bad day in America. Damage is being done to their fragile psyches in this critical time of cognitive and emotional development. Fear and phobias are being incubated by those in authority. Will those who insist on these mandates be held accountable for the trauma metastasizing in American schools?
Mask mandates undermine trust in government
Whenever I have written in the past about mask mandates, I have received a good amount of negative feedback. Some believe I am obsessed over a minor inconvenience that might prevent the spread of illness. The reason I am staying on this subject is because in light of what we now know, mask mandates represent a public decision to feed irrationality, and whenever that happens, irrationality spreads and multiplies, while trust in government’s judgment and capacity to address real challenges, plummets.
Here’s how I see it: Our country’s economy has not recovered – the trillions of dollars of government infusion have only delayed the reckoning for the lockdowns and surge in inflation. Everyone I talk to in business, at the grocery store, or at the gas pump, believes inflation is worse than what the economists are reporting. Anything beyond nominal inflation is terrible for our seniors, disabled, and those on fixed incomes. Why no urgency at the highest levels of government to address this grave threat?
End irrational mask mandates. Vulnerable seniors and the immune-compromised can be protected without such sweeping measures. Recognize natural immunity as an effective defense against Covid. And stop scaring children and inculcating irrational fear. The country needs rational decision-making in all facets of operations if we are to meet today’s challenges.
The mask mandate has been a political football, and it is no fun to watch.