Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I am incredibly frustrated by practically everyone's response to the pandemic.

Even places with previous existing mask mandates- including here! - largely failed to enforce them.  Now that it's nothing more than a weakly worded suggestion, you can bet your bottom dollar that the unmasked are, disproportionately, also the unvaccinated.

The right wing response?  No more masks ever! The left wing response?  You, personally, should wear a mask everywhere indoors forever, or else you're a bad person!

Is there, perhaps, a response that is not both stupid and ineffective?  Immune compromised people remain at high risk. Great!  Maybe some entity- and I'm just spitballing here, but perhaps the federal government might be in charge of this here thing? - could make sure they're provided with adequate and effective medication options?  They could use their emergency powers to do something... effective?

Nah, just kidding!  You should wear a mask or you're a bad person!  Who cares that 98% of the other people at the hardware store aren't wearing one?  You, personally, will increase others' risk by an insignificant amount (compared to what's already going on), so you, personally, are responsible for mitigating this huge societal and governmental failure!  Nobody's going to do anything to mitigate the risk for the highest-risk people; nobody's going to increase hospital staffing or make high-quality masks actually widely available or send out enough rapid tests to make one iota of difference (although looking at UK data one might reasonably wonder how much that helped).  

Right now, I get a covid-cases notice from our schools every single day.  Usually it's about 2.5% of the total students per week. The best that can be said for requiring masks in schools - which is no longer permitted here! - is that it could be worse, but it's already pretty bad.  And don't even get me started on 'mask breaks' and the ineffective wearing of masks.  (To be fair, our district did also do a lot with air quality and filtering.) 

I'm not saying, don't wear a mask to protect yourself.  Do whatever suits you best!  I am saying, this is ineffective health policy, it has done nothing to prevent an actual million deaths, and it will continue to do nothing to prevent more deaths, because the overall risk from leaving your house is so high that reducing exposure by the 2% of people actually wearing masks is stupid and ineffective.  

I think that most people are unwilling to maintain the level of precautions that would be necessary to never get covid.  (If you are, good for you.) I'm not going to call specific people out, but think of everyone you personally know who was 'just so careful' and got covid anyways at some point.  I think that if, on the whole, our society is not willing to do anything effective at a level which would be effective, why are we still pretending that individual masking at the grocery is what's going to turn the tide?  I think I want interventions to be either effective and intrusive, or neither.  I think my university 'requiring' masks of everyone is working really great as I walk by ten undergrads sitting in the hallway pretending to drink coffee.  I think this is all stupid and I would like to get off this ride, and possibly move to a desert island.


  1. Cold City County is letting the mask mandate expire March 1st. Since the rest of the state hasn't had a mask mandate (and even ours wasn't particularly well enforced), literally everyone caught Omicron. So, I will give up wearing a mask until next winter's cold/flu/covid season, free of guilt.

    1. An unenforced mandate is just a suggestion!! Personally, I don't even know about next winter, because exposure on the plague ship of college students is so high that nothing works except not being there. (See also: at least 30% of the students + staff have gotten covid *that we know of* in the last 15 months. Boy, that's depressing.)

  2. In Western Australia, We’re in the middle of finding out what it’s like to introduce omicron as the first uncontrolled strain of Covid into a highly vaccinated population (95%+ of over 12’s are double vaccinated & 60%+ of the over 16 pop are boosted). It’s… interesting. Mask mandates have been a thing for a month or so now.

    1. Deaths are certainly a lot lower there! Even if the government strategy also appears to be "You get a covid, you get a covid, everybody gets a covid." The US could have done a lot of things to push deaths down and instead we got His Orange Wobbliness actively working against public health and then his successor doing... not much.

    2. ... although I guess 200 deaths a day is actually proportional to 2000 deaths a day here so maybe it isn't going as great as I thought.


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