• It Was Never Just About Masks

    August 14, 2021

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Biden

    It was never just a mask, it has always been a way of thinking. “Mask” is just shorthand.

    I got fired from my volunteer work at the Hawaiian Humane Society for choosing not to wear a mask outside walking their dogs. Neither science, the CDC nor the state requires a mask outdoors and I’m fully vaccinated. Some minimum-wage staffbot saw my naked face and informed me of their “policy.” I asked why they had such a nonsensical policy, and her only answer was “it is our policy.” The conversation ended like an ever-growing percentage of conversations in America now end, with her saying “Do I need to call security?” I didn’t enjoy it but I think she did.

    It made me sad because I was doing something that was just good. I liked the big dogs, the lifers, the ones some other volunteers shied away from, and having brought one abused dog back from the edge in my home, had some small connection with the damaged ones at the shelter, too.

    I was left with no good to do this week, and a simple, real COVID question. Why are fully vaccinated people treated the same as the unvaccinated? Everyone on the plane wears a mask and goes through the same mock social distancing. Everyone at a restaurant, office, concert, etc. does the same. The answer lies at the core of whether public policy in America will shift and allow us to crawl back into our lives.

     

    The first answer, how can we know if someone has been vaccinated, is a strawman. Vaccinated people have little CDC cards. If they have no security features to prevent McLovin fakes, the CDC can create new cards and mail them to us; we had to give out all that info to get the shots. Why not have a database? We have NSA databases of all our emails, an international database of no-flys, Ohio can check if a Minnesota driver’s license is valid, and so forth. But vaccine status is somehow the third rail of privacy?

    Or is COVID different? When children register for school, they prove their mandatory childhood vaccinations with little cards. My kids, born abroad, effortlessly proved their vaccination status in Virginia with cards issued in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. As an adult, you take me at my word I’m not carrying smallpox and have been vaccinated against measles, no card even needed.

     

    The biggest reason for treating vaxxed and unvaxxed people the same miserable way is the claim that vaccinated people can still get COVID enough to pass it on. Funny thing is you can actually “get” the measles even after being vaccinated. That vaccine works by basically weakening the virus to the point where it does little harm but still exists. The vax is actually only 97 percent effective, similar to the COVID ones. But nobody talks about measles or demands we wear a mask to prevent their spread. We simply accept and deal with the risk, to include vaccination.

    The next question is really, really hard to find an answer to. Exactly how many vaccinated people actually get COVID, the so-called “breakthrough” cases? That exact number is critical because it is the pivot point for the risk vs. gain decision our society needs to make. If we cannot make a wise choice we will be struggling with and fighting over the restrictions on our lives and livelihoods forever. If we assume we’ll never have full vaccination and that breakthrough cases are a non-zero number and likely always will be then we need to make an informed decision about risk. So is it a non-zero number like “smoking causes cancer” or a non-zero number like “very few people die from meteor strikes (or from the measles.)”

    The current public policy decisions on risk are haphazard. All 50 states have different rules, many large cities, too, and each and every company. There are different rules if you take a bus or want to go dancing. One grocery store demands masks, another does not. It makes no sense. It becomes not a considered decision but an example of lack of public policy leadership. Into that leadership void enters superstition, pseudo-science, politics, voodoo, and most of all, fear.

    So what are the chances of a fully vaccinated person getting a breakthrough infection? It turns out this pivotal question is not clearly answerable but we act as if it is, with consequences for our lives, our mental health, education, commerce, and more. Even for our stray dogs.

    I started with Google and “What are the chances of getting COVID after being fully vaccinated?” expecting the answer in 0.0039 seconds like when you ask what year some historical event happened. Nope. The response from AARP said “less than one percent of fully vaccinated individuals have been hospitalized with, or have died from, COVID.” That’s a small number but does not fully address the question.

    Over to NPR, which reports “On rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others.” What does rare occasions mean? This is supposed to be, you know, science, so we finally get some numbers from the CDC: out of 159 million fully vaccinated people, the CDC documented 5,914 cases of fully vaccinated people who were hospitalized or died from COVID, and 75 percent of them were over age 65. That means only 0.0000037 percent of vaxxed people were hospitalized or died, and most of them were elderly. That is a very small number. It is a lot less than one percent and a lot less than rare. Chances of dying in a car wreck are many tens of thousands of times higher and we drive on.

    It still however does not answer the question of how dangerous the vaxxed but unmasked are in terms of transmitting the virus. No one really knows. Recent scare headlines calling for reinstated restrictions and vax mandates are based on a single outbreak, 469 cases, in one city in Massachusetts, that appears to show (at variance with existing studies) 75 percent of those infected had been vaccinated and oddly, almost all of those people (87 percent) were male. Most of the infected were asymptomatic or experienced mild symptoms. No deaths.

    What is believed is the a) delta variant of COVID makes a b) temporary home inside a vaccinated man’s nose or upper respiratory area, c) outside the immune system. It waits there to be d) blown out and then be e) received by an f) unvaccinated person. So all of these multiple things have to go “right” for it to matter. It is not simply a matter of toting up how many vaccinated people tested positive and then hitting the panic button. As one doctor put it “We really need to shift toward a goal of preventing serious disease and disability and medical consequences, and not worry about every virus detected in somebody’s nose.”

    Requiring everyone to wear masks again based on one outbreak that appears related to gender may seem as if it can’t hurt, but it does. Organizations waste time and credibility enforcing measures that have limited if any impact (and consider how many masks are old, dirty, improperly worn, etc. to be fully useless.) To simply dismiss the reality of numbers with a blithe “well you can’t be too careful” only works if you imagine COVID restrictions have no secondary or tertiary effects.

    Via layers of Keystone Kops political gestures, entire cities’ economies have been devastated, with no clear end point for those dependent on renting office space or tourism. Education has near-disappeared for large numbers of kids. Despair grows menacingly. Economic inequality got a booster shot. The power of government has grown in ways that make the post-9/11 shenanigans look like amateur efforts. The ability to shape how we live, shop, work, and eat has been handed randomly to a near-endless range of actors, from the president to governors empowered with “emergency edicts” to flight attendants who can prevent you from seeing grandma in Florida to minimum wage store clerks ever-anxious to call security not on shoplifters but on an exposed nose.

    Convincing Americans to set aside their irrational fears is no longer impossible. Those fears were created by politicians and the media, and have become a profit center. The Little Hitlers on the plane are unwilling to return to just serving drinks when they tasted power over lives. The NYT for months ran columns saying Trump’s vaccine was another government syphilis experiment. Vice President Harris refused to take the shot during the campaign. Biden took it, said it worked, then went right on masking as if it didn’t work. It was a very successful organized campaign to propagate uncertainty for a political purpose. Following the election, many right wing media outlets pivoted to pick up a version of the song. It is all their fault vaccine acceptance varies by political party, where we live, and how much education we have. No other country suffers this additional burden to a return to normal.

    So we won’t concede the reality kids are unlikely to get sick and should go to school. That the vast majority of deaths occur among the elderly with comorbidities not the general population. That ill-fitting masks and wiping down groceries with Clorox are theatre. That the debate has become a political argument instead of an evidence-based one. That the CDC has lost credibility until one side needs it for some partisan purpose. That previously healthcare decisions started with the premise of “first, do no harm” while today there is no conversation allowed about the balance of benefits and harm. That we simply tally the collateral damage while the virus remains unaffected. That if we are to heal as a society there is only one answer: at some point we must simply ask what works.

    We lack the political leadership to say what’s true so we’re going back to “let’s just argue about masks.” Meanwhile the virus continues to find unvaccinated hosts. The economy won’t snap back. Biden is facing a mini-civil war over mandates or restarting lockdowns and has no plan. Things will hit the fan in September as Hot Vax Summer sputters, when every school district does something different, and Federal unemployment supplements run out. People have grown weary of being afraid, and grown weary of being subject to the paranoid demands of safety fetishists. Many did what they were told to do — get vaxxed — only to find themselves stuck inside the same dysfunctional loop. Gonna be some angry folks looking for better answers than their leaders have given to date. So tell us how this ends, Joe.

     

     

     

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      I had a feeling in 1968 that invading foreign countries was an unsustainable blueprint for continued USA prosperity and that my generation’s opposition to war would cause the MIC’s commerce fueling machinery to jam for good. That was naive. It turns out that Donald Rumsfeld had a better understanding with his unknown unknown- a tiny virus made the gears of commerce seize. PVB wants to know if Joe Biden can help the economy “snap back”. I think a lot of us are now stuck with finding a way to snap forward. Snapping back doesn’t seem likely or even possible.

      08/14/21 10:28 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      Peter is not a doctor but he plays one on WMW.

      The delta variant makes even vaccinated people sick. Sick people spread the virus and make others sick.

      Masks reduce the amount of spread.

      Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but always a mask is just a mask.

      08/14/21 12:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      It was about the vaccines

      Over 69% of Iceland’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with one out of a total of four types of vaccine. Just over half of them received the Pfizer vaccine, about 20 percent received Astra Zeneca or Janssen and almost ten percent received the Moderna vaccine.

      Our of those who have been infected with Covid in this latest wave, most – or 637 persons – received the Janssen vaccine. That is 1.19 percent of those fully vaccinated. 420 infected people received Pfizer and 270 received Astra Zeneca, which is proportionally higher than those who received Pfizer. Relatively few of the infected are in the Moderna group, but 59 persons who received the vaccine have been diagnosed with Covid.

      08/15/21 10:06 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      It is a sad thing to see when unmasked unvaxxed covidiots give into this “hoax” on their deathbeds. You got this far, what do you have to lose? Keep the faith, even if it kills you.

      08/16/21 2:03 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      Of course deep-think pieces about masks and political culture wars are just distractions from issues, like what if the US had a free press and was anything like a democracy, the government wouldn’t be getting away with squandering thousands of lives and trillions of dollars on a 20-year war which accomplished literally nothing besides making assholes obscenely wealthy.

      Talk about a real dysfunctional loop. We know how it ends…badly.

      08/16/21 6:56 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      6

      Bauer- at least some of those billions are now coming home. The corrupt Afghan plutocrats we enriched for over 20 years will soon be purchasing Brentwood multi million dollar homes with cash. That seems fair!

      08/17/21 10:31 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      Yeah, but it was Peanuts compared to the money the MIC made. They all knew it.

      The House vote was 420-1. The Senate vote was 98-0.

      08/17/21 5:24 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      8

      Bauer- agreed – so what is next for the MICC? Making weapons to defeat space enemies and invaders?

      08/18/21 9:17 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      The Pentagon has lots of plans to start wars, but never has an endgame for any of them…other than declare victory and know the dumbass country will forget about the lies. Congress needs to initiate a draft lottery and give the lowest numbers to the trustfund babies. That will stop any war plans…because it will be the RIch peoples’ endgame.

      08/18/21 4:53 PM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      10

      The thing that most interests me about the monumental train wreck in Afghanistan is how “anonymous” Intel Community sources are now pointing fingers at Biden, and how outlets like the NYT (!) are actually reporting on that. Back in the Trump era I’d have said this sort of thing was just TDS, but what’s the rationale *now* for portraying a not-Trump Prez as a complete bumbler? Obviously the “Deep State” IC guys get to publicly say “We told him so” and look/feel good about themselves, but what’s in it for the MSM’s paymasters? Have they suddenly become interested in “journalism” again? Or maybe they want to keep the masses divided, distracted and afraid while they continue to vacuum up this country’s wealth with the help of their lackeys in Congress? We all kind of knew dear old Joe B. was gonna be a one hit wonder, and it seems the powers that be have decided it’s time to kick him to the curb, “Mission accomplished!” Equally interesting is how dear old Kamala is also being targeted by the MSM – I guess her turn on stage also didn’t impress her producers with her acting ability. Oh well, time to find someone new. Kind of funny for one segment of the electorate to be sure, but actually quite sad for democracy as a whole in America: realizing your elected leaders are incompetent shills is basically what caused the Afghan military to collapse in a matter of days. But the masses here have the attention span of goldfish, so I’m sure the news cycle will work back around to “COVID will kill us all” in a few days to keep the fear going. Cheers!

      08/18/21 11:17 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      11

      Everybody in this fiasco looked out for their own interests. The Intel Agencies go along to get along, because their careers. The War Cheerleaders at MSNBC owned by war profiteers. The whores in Congress paid by businessmen who know war is a profitable business. Just never figured out what was in it for the poor people who died for the profit of others. Trump called them losers, suckers. Of course he knew cause that was his career.

      08/19/21 9:24 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      Let US not forget the war on the Homefront.

      The little dissent against these useless wars was actively suppressed by the powers that be in the MSM and in government, Voice opposition to the illegal wars and you were were removed from your positions. In the “liberal” US State Department the Gestapo Diplomatic Security harassed Peter, who was fired for dare telling the war was a ripoff of the American taxpayer, Many others at State were threatened with removal of security clearance for daring to share emails critical of the TOTAL MADNESS. This is testament to the power of the MIC.

      AS Frank Zappa observed, “the federal government is the entertainment division of the MIC.”

      08/19/21 1:17 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      13

      Lies go viral, infecting minds. We can blame FB, kill the messenger. But like fast food, it is crap but that’s what these idiots want to swallow. This is why nobody holds The Department of Useless Wars or the Central Disinformation Agency to account. The truth is the dumbass Americans want to believe the lies. It may taste good going down, but crap going out.

      08/20/21 9:53 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      14

      Bauer: We’re left today with the discredited mantra that a free press is needed to insure the American republic would flourish. The MSM is indeed free to print their heavily biased point of view and call it journalism (as long as it fits a bottom line MO) It’s all advocacy propaganda by power holders and seekers. I guess that was inevitable. It’s the story of the human drive for dominance.

      08/20/21 2:46 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      15

      PVB: Are you such a hard ass that you refuse to mask up so those lifer dawgs can get a little break? Where does such rigidity come from? Maybe I should address that to your wife if indeed you are still married.

      08/20/21 2:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      16

      This should be the last line of every WMW article:

      “We lack the political leadership to say what’s true.”

      08/22/21 6:02 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      The New York Post, that liberal Commie rag, is forcing its employees to wear masks now. Fox News, that liberal Commie network, is also forcing its employees to report their vaccination status. Obviously Amerika can’t trust any MSM to be unbiased when it comes to this hoax.

      08/23/21 5:22 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      18

      The geniuses at the Pfizer marketing dept have created a new name for its vaccine to get the antivax crowd on board: CommieNazi. Should be a big hit.

      08/24/21 8:08 AM | Comment Link

    • Remco said...

      19

      The percentage seems to be a factor 1000 higher given the cited numbers.

      09/7/21 3:13 AM | Comment Link

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