Official New Covid Policy: Pretend It Isn’t Happening

Photograph Source: Tyler Merbler – CC BY 2.0

America, we are told, is done with covid. Who tells us? Businessmen, the politicians they purchase, economists, pundits, pollsters and know-it-alls of every stripe. People want to “get back to normal,” these experts say. They want to “live with the virus.” Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t want to live with them. It wants to kill them. But no matter. Corporate media blares the message of its masters: get back to work – preferably for low pay; go out and spend money on those products whose prices companies just jacked up, masked or maskless, who cares? And if you contract the virus, kindly don’t make a fuss about our dysfunctional health care non-system. It’s there to turn a profit, you see, and this business of healing people, well, that’s not what the insurance companies signed on for. So if you get really sick, please, don’t bother anyone, especially all those people “living with the virus,” just die quietly at home.

The geniuses calling for us to get back to normal never mention that this virus can make you ill for a long time, namely years. Or that it can easily kill anyone in the majority of Americans with co-morbidities, from obesity and diabetes to old age. Or that once you get covid, you can get it again and again and again. There appears to be no such thing as acquired, natural immunity. How are you supposed to live normally with that? Something’s gotta give, and from my perch in the peanut gallery, that something is the whole concept of normal.

If the choice is wearing an N95 mask in public or almost certainly risking death or disability, any sane person wears the mask. If someone’s so fanatical about their “freedom” to get sick, die and kill other people, well sorry, those beliefs make that person an imbecile. For the rest of us, wearing the mask is the new normal. It doesn’t go away till covid does. Not when it subsides between peaks, not when it becomes endemic. When it’s gone. Then we take off our masks.

Lockdowns and national vaccine mandates are ancient tools of plague control that, were this a rational country, would have long been under lively discussion. It isn’t, so they aren’t. Maybe we’ll get lucky and not need them, you know, mild omicron which mildly killed hundreds of thousands of people will subside, and the disease will peter out. Oh, and Santa Claus is coming to town and so is the tooth fairy.

It would be great to be wrong about this, but so far, versatile, flexible, supremely adaptable covid has outsmarted the human race. It wanes for a little while, then roars back in some new, murderous form. The vaccines aren’t great, but they’re all we’ve got. At least as far as medical prevention is concerned. Anyone stupid enough to eschew them, gets far worse than he or she deserves. You see, people are used to suffering a little for their idiotic mistakes. They’re not used to intubation and death for them.

Unfortunately, on February 7, the stakes for imbecility shot a lot higher. That was when Georgia lawmakers introduced a law banning requirements for childhood vaccines against eight deadly diseases. Currently the state department of health requires these eight vaccines. That’s regardless of how loony the parents may be about medical matters. But Georgia politicos think they’ve struck gold pandering to psychotics, as they flabbergast the civilized world of modern medicine.

So if the legislation passes, schools will no longer be able to require student vaccination against MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), chickenpox, tetanus (a killer), diphtheria (another killer), pertussis, Hepatitis B, meningitis (another killer) and flu. And when I say a killer, I mean 60 percent mortality for severe tetanus, one in 10 for meningitis (one in five have severe complications) and a five to 10 percent death rate for diphtheria. The other diseases are no slouches in the death and disability departments, either.

So this is what the covid anti-vax lunacy has wrought. Medicines which have kept kids alive and healthy for generations will now be optional.  Parents will absorb anti-vax hallucinations from the internet, and children will die, as we plunge over the anti-vax precipice into the free-for-all of a medical dark age.

Meanwhile on January 31, in less floridly mad parts of the nation, came reports of governors beseeching Biden to “get past” covid. GOP Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson requested pointers on how to live with the virus. “We need to have the guidance very clear as to how you actually structurally move from the pandemic state of things to an endemic.” Answer: you don’t. You don’t move to an endemic state if you still have a pandemic and if, even worse, the disease is a killer. Some “freedom” maniacs may disagree. Vacuous, malignant, right-wing astro-turfers may egg them on and fund their truck convoys. But most normal people don’t want to die. They will try to protect themselves.

Answering Hutchinson, Biden said: “We’ve got a way to go on that in my view, but we’re moving.” He explained that getting back to normal was a big job. Ya think? Maybe it’s an impossible job with a disease that circulates and kills in large numbers, while we lack an effective barrier to it. Our vaccines don’t block transmission. They also wear out quickly. And break-through infections happen constantly. These are major problems – for anyone with a brain. For those without one, it’s “my body, my choice,” the choice often turning out to be the crematorium.

Following up on this gubernatorial request on February 7, governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced the end of the mask mandate in schools. Many other states also dropped their mask mandates. According to the New York Times, New Jersey’s move signaled “a deliberate shift toward treating the coronavirus as part of daily life.” Translation: let ‘er rip.

The Times notes that school masking “has proved one of the most divisive issues in the pandemic.” Uh, you could put it like that, I suppose, if you wanted to paper over fanatical violence by morons inflicted on normal people. With death threats to school board members and rabid “back to before covid” nuts screaming at school meetings, “parental choice” about masking kids has become a right-wing cause célèbre in the culture wars. That’s unfortunate, because it is profoundly stupid. But hey, mass death never stopped the GOP from capitalizing on a suicidal trend, so long as the party comes out on top in the next election. So what if dimwits rule the roost and rip masks off other people’s faces?

Masks work. That’s because covid is an airborne disease. Better masks, like N95s, work better. These are facts. Those who believe they aren’t, often fall into the “covid is a hoax” camp. You cannot argue with such people. They’re bonkers on this subject. The only folks who could convince them, all 900,000 of them, are dead.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Hope Deferred. She can be reached at her website.