Bill de Blasio: 1 Mask Good, 2 Masks Better
Coronavirus developments across the country have largely taken a positive turn, with deaths and hospitalizations declining and new infection rates plummeting. Widespread immunity from a combination of vaccination and prior infection, as well as the likely seasonality of the virus, all point toward the strong possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic may finally be reaching its end.
But you would never imagine this was the case if you get your information solely from government and public health officials, who continue to insist that Americans practice aggressive social distancing and masking—even double masking.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance, advised residents of his city to wear not just one mask, but two masks, until at least June.
“June is the earliest we would even consider changing guidance around masks,” said de Blasio at a press conference on Tuesday. “It may be we continue that guidance for quite a while given what’s going on. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing, not just wear a mask, wear two.”
De Blasio stressed that vaccinated New Yorkers should continue to follow every conceivable precaution out of concern for others, even though preliminary evidence strongly suggests that vaccinated people are substantially less likely to spread the virus at all.
“I would say to anyone vaccinated: Keep wearing that mask,” said de Blasio. “It’s also just the culture, we want everyone to remember that the mask-wearing culture has been part of what turned the corner for us, and we have to keep it that way until this is finally defeated.”
This framing is ridiculous. Government mask mandates are an infringement on individual liberty—perhaps a useful one, but an infringement all the same—not some hot new cultural trend. People are understandably tired of having to wear them, they are sick of avoiding social gatherings, and they miss their friends and family. We were all asked to put up with an astonishing amount of misery for an entire year in order to keep the pandemic at bay. It’s one thing for government officials to stress that people need to hold steady until they receive their vaccines, but it’s quite another to implore them to be even more cautious even after they have been vaccinated.
It’s not just de Blasio sounding an excessively pessimistic note: Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s top coronavirus adviser, recently poured cold water on the idea that vaccinated people can enjoy normal life.
“There are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society,” Fauci said during a White House press briefing on Monday. “For example, indoor dining, theaters, places where people congregate. That’s because of the safety of society.”
People are already dining indoors, of course—and have been for much of the pandemic. While this activity has certainly carried risks (COVID-19 spread has been linked to restaurants), those risks drop precipitously if everybody is
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