The mummery has served to swathe and dilute a message that politicians were unhappy to deliver: It would be up to us citizens to control Covid the best we can.
Lockdowns are imagined to be a kind of enforced social distancing. They aren’t. Mandatory business closures don’t stop people from spreading the disease. Letting businesses stay open doesn’t force them to spread the disease.
People spread the disease by their own decisions, moment by moment, about when, where and how to expose themselves to risk.
Only lately has this reality snuck into public rhetoric as leaders in New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere started admitting that their moves are more about “signaling” than any practical effect.
No messaging strategy was more ill-judged than the one our politicians selected for a vaccine, deciding that nothing was more important than signaling that no corners were being cut.