Commentary: Forever masked

This is virtue signaling and emotional manipulation at its worst.

A vaccinated Kamala Harris wears a mask during a phone call with President Saied of Tunisia. (Vice President Kamala Harris/Twitter)

“Masks should remain with us, becoming part of our everyday lives even as the COVID-19 pandemic, science willing, subsides. We should never fully return to our maskless society,” two New York City-based professors said in the NY Daily News Tuesday.

Conscientious observers of modern society have deduced that the left is suddenly irate at the CDC and its leader Rochelle Walensky, who finally followed science (and politics) by allowing those who still take edicts from bureaucrats to resume life.

Progressive blue-check Twitter, which gets a ton of airtime, despite representing no more than 5% of the country, is befuddled.

“So … how does one tell the difference between a fully vaccinated person and a not vaccinated person?” asked an NBC legal analyst; elsewhere, cries of “too soon!” went up.

Around the world, masks now serve as posturing beyond their purpose of slowing the spread of disease. Nowhere has the issue become more partisan than our United States, where instead of celebrating health guidelines as a sign we’re winning the long battle, there’s outrage.

CNN commissioned Lawrence Kleinman, a pediatrician and professor at Rutgers University, for some vacuous conjecture. Ironically, he spent about half of his 1,000 words making the opposite point. Here’s his main beef:

“To keep children safe, public policy should require both masks and distancing for individuals, such as teachers and caregivers, who interact with unvaccinated children. Recent CDC guidance allowed fully vaccinated individuals to congregate among one another in small gatherings without masks. It explicitly allowed individuals who are vaccinated to interact without masks with ‘low risk’ families with children. This guidance correctly indicated that these vaccinated individuals are generally safe. But it also underemphasized the risk to unvaccinated children. And recent guidance that calls for the end of mask use by vaccinated individuals compounds their prior error.”

Kleinman closed his diatribe with a personal plea, “for my 4-year-old daughter and her generation, I continue to [wear a mask] when I am around others outside my pod, even among those who are vaccinated. I hope you will too.”

This is virtue signaling and emotional manipulation at its worst. Kleinman’s “pod,” which surely has limited diversity of thought, simply seeks masks as a symbol of tribal affiliation.

During the coronavirus pandemic, data show children rarely get very sick and almost never die. Those under 18 represent fewer than 300 of 585,000 U.S. deaths, despite roughly four million kids testing positive for COVID (mortality rate: less than 0.0001%, thank goodness). Because teachers unions now run the CDC, schools still ignore data. 

Now that it’s finally warm, I take long walks each day. Nobody of any age in my modest, diverse neighborhood wears a mask; yet in wealthier parts of town, most still don face coverings.

“Encouraged but not required” is now a common goal for masking, even among the wokest corporations.

But when vaccinated people like foolhardy Kamala Harris wear masks on Zoom calls — in a socially-distanced room where all attendees are vaccinated — the message is that vaccines don’t work.

Do the “masks forever” folks, like the professors, understand they are discouraging their fellow Americans from participating in a life-saving health measure?

Instead, elite responses to the vaccine-hesitant have been to mock, rather than persuade. That only stokes division, tensions, and does not move us toward herd immunity.

“For most of the last year, masking indoors or out seemed a basic precaution to reduce COVID spread,” a Monday New York Post staff editorial mused. “Eventually (long before the CDC admitted it, sigh), it became apparent that outdoor transmission is close to zero — so continued outdoor masking and outdoor-mask mandates were simply a fetish. And the vaccinated are neither likely to contract the bug nor spread it in the remote chance they still get infected. So there’s now zero reason to require the tens of millions who’ve been jabbed to mask up, even indoors.”

The trends are great. COVID-19 is fading fast — even as some oddly fear the freedom that brings.