Am I understanding Whoopi Goldberg correctly here? She wants the people who are tired of masking to stay home and out of public spaces?
If you’re done with precautions you should take the most draconian precaution of all?
I’ve heard the opposite argument many times during the pandemic, that those who are anxious should feel free to isolate and let the more risk-tolerant get back to normal. This is the first time I’ve heard someone ask the risk-tolerant to, uh, avoid risk.
That’s not the craziest part of the clip either. Co-host Sara Haines ends up comparing masking to TSA security theater — not the worst analogy — but does so approvingly. We’ve gotten used to taking off our shoes before boarding airplanes, she reasons. We’ll get used to perpetual masking too.
"How dare you!" Whoopi ridiculously pops off against Bill Maher for anti-mask jokes, tell him to say out of society. Sara Haines joins in by saying masks will be a permanent "new normal" like airport security after 9/11. "I may never … feel comfortable without a mask." pic.twitter.com/AHjJcKR79c
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) January 24, 2022
Whoopi says at one point that some people have lost their kids to “the vaccine.” I think she meant “the virus.” And she’s right about that, but it’s always worth bearing the numbers in mind: Fewer than 1,000 children have died of COVID since the start of the pandemic, comparable to (if not better than) the toll in a flu season.
It’s not clear to me what she thinks would be achieved by having Bill Maher and other anti-maskers isolate at home indefinitely. People who are vaccinated and wearing cloth masks can still spread Omicron to each other, although an N95 will cut your odds of infection dramatically. Clinging to standard masks as a key bulwark in slowing the spread at a moment when something like a fifth of the U.S. population might be infected is neurosis more so than science. The same goes for Haines endorsing hand sanitizer as another COVID precaution that might be continued indefinitely, as if we haven’t known for 18 months that the virus spreads through the air, not on surfaces.
My honest take is that more people have finally begun to crack under the strain of Omicron, driven batty by two years of COVID and a virus that’s now infecting more Americans than ever a year after we got a vaccine that was supposed to end the pandemic. Mothers are holding primal scream sessions to vent their frustration:
On a cold night on a desolate field in Charlestown last week, 20 Boston-area moms gathered to treat themselves to one of the only pleasures still left.
They had gathered there to let out a long, deep, primal scream. https://t.co/vOCoX7DP8m
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) January 20, 2022
Lefty parents are “barely holding on” even though kids who are too young to be vaccinated are at nearly zero risk from serious complications due to COVID:
'Barely holding on?' This is absolutely psychotic and disconnected from reality. Two years of the media's relentless pandemic panic porn, reinforced and intensified by social media bubbles, has completed broken people's perspective. It's sad. https://t.co/OY1Ivq3jfR pic.twitter.com/M6gKKOrmPM
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) January 24, 2022
The experts are still scaring the hell out of moms and dads unnecessarily:
Media personality @PeterHotez: “If you start lifting mask mandates now, you’re basically condemning all the kids to get infected with omicron … which that means some kids have to be hospitalized or possibly worse. It makes no sense to lift mask mandates at this point." pic.twitter.com/4izTLRwFok
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 24, 2022
This really had better be the last major wave of COVID. I don’t know how the country would fare at this point if we were faced with a new variant that was more virulent than the original virus rather than less. If we continue to see “mild” strains like Omicron going forward then it’s a cinch that most of the public will confront them with full normalcy, expecting nothing worse than a few days of flu-like symptoms. But if we got hit with something deadlier than standard COVID, the choice between another period of sustained isolation and tolerating a more lethal risk in the name of normalcy would break us.
The one point in the clip that I agree with is that some are being just a wee bit cavalier in proudly proclaiming themselves “done with COVID,” as if the risk from the virus at this point is some mass delusion from which you can free yourself by simply willing yourself to do so. On an individual level, unless you’re elderly or sick with something else, your risk is minuscule. But like I said in this post on Saturday about Maher and Bari Weiss, the threat to the wider population at the moment is worse than it’s been in almost a year. At bottom, in their own dunderheaded way, the point Goldberg and Haines are making is simply that people should still consider the risk to the wider community in their personal behaviors, not just the risk to themselves. To the extent you can do your part to limit transmission, you’re helping someone else out.
Here’s Jonathan Reiner, an MD, responding to Weiss this weekend. It’s getting chippy out there.