Which mask? What test? COVID's latest surge spreads an epidemic of confusion

On seemingly every front in the battle against the coronavirus, the messages are muddled: Test or don’t test? Which test? When? Isolate or not? For five days? Ten? Go to school or not? See friends and resume normal life, or hunker down again — and if so, for how long, to what end?…

Meanwhile, schools and colleges open, close, go online, reverse themselves. In liberal and conservative media alike, countervailing voices alternately raise and dash hopes that the pandemic endgame is nigh. The National Football League scrambled to put third-tier players on the field to keep huge crowds coming into stadiums, while the National Hockey League canceled a slew of games and the Grammys were indefinitely postponed.

“I feel like I’m swimming in the ocean at night, and I could be 100 yards from the shore or 100 miles, and all I can do is keep swimming,” said Chip Franklin, who runs an Internet talk show with a liberal bent. “I’m 65 and I don’t think I’m going to get this and die, but we don’t go to restaurants, and I don’t see anybody except the same eight people we saw at the beginning, in 2020. Anybody that says they know what to do now is a liar.”