This Thing Ain’t Over

I stopped wearing a pandemic mask in mid-May. I’m wondering if that was a mistake.

The CDC and reliable public health experts advise that fully-vaccinated people do not, for the most part, need to wear masks for their own protection any longer. Being fully-vaccinated, I don’t feel personally vulnerable without mine, even as the new variants gain ground in my state, where less than 50% of the population 16 and older is vaccinated.

My concern about going mask-less is that it creates a false sense that the pandemic is behind us.

It isn’t behind us.

In his latest COVID-19 update, Dave Pollard shares some IHME projections.

In the US, estimated actual deaths, which dropped to as low as 300/day at the start of this month, are now expected to soar back above 1000/day this fall and stay at that level for an extended period. This will increase the total US death toll to 1,025,000 by October 31, a full 80,000 more than the current death toll. Almost all the projected deaths will be among the unvaccinated, and over 90% of them will be in the 28 vaccine-hesitant states where levels of vaccination continue to lag as low as 35%.

Seeing so many masked faces over the past year made us all acutely aware of our collective plight. Now that the masks are disappearing, we have no visual reminder that there is still trouble in River City, that people among us are still getting sick and dying from COVID-19, and that those numbers are likely to go up in spite of the fact that we have an effective vaccine.

Vaccine refusal is contributing to the rise in infections and deaths. This morning I read a polemic from a vax-refuser, just to get a sense of what the arguments are. I’m not linking to it, but a quick search will get you plenty of similar items, if you are inclined to seek them out.

I probably spend far too much time wondering what lies behind the baseline state of denial that undermines so many efforts to make things better for living things in general, and humans in particular. Be it living wages, ending forever wars, addressing the climate crisis, or coping with a major public health emergency, some large contingent always stands opposed, often for no discernable reason beyond ideology or the opportunity to profit from the status quo. Perhaps it’s just one more way in which the death cult of our casino economy tilts in favor of the House. Who gains when people are sick? What is the cost/benefit analysis?

I can feel myself falling into cynicism here. It’s barely a stumble anymore.

While I ponder these (largely rhetorical) questions, let’s not forget that we’re also having to combat the flawed argument that getting or not getting vaccinated against a deadly virus is somehow an individual choice unburdened by social responsibility. Such a quaint notion, that. You’re not the boss of me.

Our low vax numbers in Indiana put us in line with most of our Midwest and Middle South neighbors. It’s a pretty dismal picture. So I’m thinking of putting the mask back on, just to remind my fellow supermarket-shoppers and library-browsers that this thing ain’t over yet.

One thought on “This Thing Ain’t Over

  1. Trying again to leave comment:
    Hi Peggy. I’m trying to stop judging people’s motivations and just provide facts, but you ask some very important questions. What underlies the “live free or die” mentality of so many, and not just in the US, who would rather die a ghastly death than admit their (obvious) dependence on governments and corporate cartels?

    Who benefits? Politicians who know that by humouring the illusion of independence and free choice and a widespread ‘don’t tell me what to do’ attitude, they will get elected over ‘interventionists’ (socialists, liberals and democrats).

    So now the same cohort that is dying in droves from diabetes and autoimmune diseases due to poor eating habits (“don’t tell me what to eat, either, and don’t tell me not to smoke”), will be unnecessarily dying from CoVid-19. This is the same cohort that falls for most of the disinformation and wacko conspiracy theories that have sprung up in the predatory social media. It’s largely the same cohort that is dying from poisoned street drugs in record numbers. It’s the same cohort whose accidental deaths and injuries from personal firearms (“…from my cold, dead hands”) vastly outnumber those committed by criminals. It’s the same cohort that refuses federal government money (“handouts”) for vital health care programs. It’s the same cohort that makes up most of the armed forces fighting and dying (“support our troops!”) in imperialist foreign wars for the military-industrial complex.

    And I don’t think this antipathy to any government regulation or restriction is new, or uniquely American. I wonder what lies behind it, and whether distrust of authority, government, regulation and any intervention or public support for anything, is now so deeply entrenched that any sense of trust could ever be re-engendered?

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