Take the Damn Mask Off!

In the New York Times, David Leonhardt writes about “Irrational COVID Fears.” The subhead: “Why do so many vaccinated people remain fearful?” Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because of constant media hysteria, and the insistence by Dr. Fauci and others that vaccinated people continue to wear masks?

That isn’t where Leonhardt is going, of course. He begins with the fact that most people are terrible at objectively assessing risk. That is both true and unfortunate, but not exactly news. It does apply to covid vaccination:

The vaccines have nearly eliminated death, hospitalization and other serious Covid illness among people who have received shots.
If you’re vaccinated, Covid presents a minuscule risk to you, and you present a minuscule Covid risk to anyone else. A car trip is a bigger threat, to you and others. About 100 Americans are likely to die in car crashes today. The new federal data suggests that either zero or one vaccinated person will die today from Covid.

Nevertheless, Leonhardt endorses post-vaccine mask wearing, basically as a concession to irrationality:

It’s true that experts believe vaccinated people should still sometimes wear a mask, partly because it’s a modest inconvenience that further reduces a tiny risk — and mostly because it contributes to a culture of mask wearing.

But if you’ve been vaccinated (and in my opinion, even if you haven’t), the “culture of mask wearing” is stupid and harmful.

It is the decent thing to do when most people still aren’t vaccinated.

Why is it “decent” to do something that is entirely pointless, potentially damaging to one’s health, and contributes to the irrational fears that Leonhardt has already described?

If you’re vaccinated, a mask is more of a symbol of solidarity than anything else.

Solidarity with whom? Dr. Fauci? The perennially masked, although vaccinated, Joe Biden? In reality, wearing a mask post-vaccine is a symbol of submission to irrational state power.

How about this for a symbol? How about if we all declare ourselves free from the nonsense, take off our masks, and get back to normal life?

I can’t explain why some people are so needlessly afraid of covid. Leonhardt concludes with this sad anecdote:

Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University told us about his own struggle to return to normal. He has been fully vaccinated for almost two months, he said, and only recently decided to meet a vaccinated friend for a drink, unmasked. “It was hard — psychologically hard — for me,” Jha said.

Wow. We need to help people like Dr. Jha recover from covid hysteria. Let’s show solidarity with him by removing our masks so he and others like him can see that normal life is, indeed, possible.

Happily, we have a few leaders who haven’t succumbed to covid mania. Like Ron DeSantis:

When you tell people, “oh yeah, yeah, this important. Go get the vaccine,” but then you’ve still got to social distance, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t eat in a restaurant. Some of the people are still saying that kind of stuff.
My view is if you get a vaccine, vaccines are effective, you’re immune, so act immune. If you tell people the opposite, then gee, you know why if it’s not effective for them and it’s not going to change anything, then what’s the point of going through it?

In other words: take off the damn masks.

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