You may have seen The Atlanta story about the COVID lockdown that set the internet a-Twitter.
Journalist Emma Green noticed something you probably have also seen. People who have been fully vaccinated are still wearing their masks. Especially in politically blue areas of the country.
Green’s piece “The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown,” basically set Progressives’ hair on fire. Especially when you consider her implied question:
Now who isn’t following the science?
To which mask-wearers would probably say — am I still a little wary of COVID? Uh yeah. We just spent over a year being told how deadly it is. And it was deadly, killing over 500,000 people.
Which can lead, as Green points out, to ideological virtue signals.
We’ve come to think of people that refuse to wear masks — cue the supermarket rant video — as angry QAnon Trump supporters. And people who continue to wear masks, although they have been told they don’t have to, are rejecting the conservative mask and vaccine deniers.
Green found one guy who basically said there are two types of people. Those who care about others and those who do not. You don’t get much more stark than that.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like either side knows what it is talking about.
An April poll from the Brookings Institute found that Democrats were much more likely to overstate the potential for harm by COVID infections. And Republicans were more likely to underestimate the effects.
In polling of some 35,000 Americans by Franklin Templeton-Gallup, 41 percent of Democrats thought that at least 50 percent of those who caught COVID would be hospitalized. The current best estimate is “between 1% and 5%.”
Meanwhile, 41 percent of Republicans “believed that flu caused more deaths than COVID-19 during 2020.” They were also prone to believe, as Ex-President Donald Trump claimed, more people were killed in automobile accidents, which is also untrue.
Now, finding political middle ground today is next to impossible. The two sides are so entrenched they may never come together. We are probably not going to fix that soon.
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But there is another, larger point. Green spoke to Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at UCSF. You may have seen her on cable TV news. Gandhi is turning into the go-to soundbite provider for national media.
And her point is, you may not be doing as much good as you think by keeping the mask.
“Those who are vaccinated on the left seem to think over-caution is the way to go,” she told Green. “Which is making people on the right question the effectiveness of the vaccines.”
In other words, if I’m a vaccine skeptic, I might say: “Those liberals all got the shot, but they are still wearing masks. If they don’t trust the vaccine, why should I?”
In fact, Fox outrage machine Tucker Carlson has recently made a form of that point recently: asking what if the vaccine doesn’t work? And if it does, why the over-caution? Of course, Tucker is just asking questions.
Here’s one Tucker. Why won’t you say if you got the vaccine.
And finally, and this may should counter-intuitive but we are going there anyhow . . . a case can be made that wearing a mask is actually slowing down the recovery.
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You’ve heard the premise. This was the promise of the Joe Biden administration. We’re going to put out hundreds of millions of vaccines, so if you want one, you can get one.
And the incentive, the reason to get the shot, is freedom. You’ll be able to take a walk without a mask. You can gather with other vaccinated people, even indoors in small groups. You can hug.
In theory, people would see other people who feel comfortable without a mask, and they’d feel more comfortable. That would encourage others to get the shot so they could get the benefits. It would be another one of those back-to-normal moments.
So, I’ve given it a try a few times. Fully vaccinated, I wear a mask indoors and then sometimes take it off for my daily walk or jog.
I did it this morning, as research. As usual, at first it felt really weird. I saw more mask-free people than I expected, maybe half a dozen, but far more were masked-up. Also, maybe I imagined it, but it seemed I did get a few dirty looks.
So I put it back on.
Still not there.
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