Beware the mission creep during COVID-19
PURELY POLITICAL : James Buckley
Editor’s note: “Purely Political” debuts today as the latest column in the News-Press’ Voices section. Author James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident.
In March 2020, we were told by various medical advisors, scientists and elected officials that unless we “flattened the curve” of the novel coronavirus that had begun to spread rapidly throughout the U.S., we were sure to overwhelm the hospitals, that chaos would prevail and many more people would die as a result.
So we were all-in. We hunkered down in our homes and basements, wore masks if we absolutely had to go out, washed our hands for 20 seconds frequently, and religiously kept our six-foot distance from friends, family and strangers.
Everyone agreed it was the right thing to do.
How could we do otherwise?
And it seemed to have worked. The concerted effort of hundreds of millions of Americans hiding out at home apparently did “flatten the curve,” and presumably many lives were indeed saved.
Most hospitals were not overwhelmed and even in hard-hit New York City, the extra hospital beds supplied by President Donald Trump in 2020 for the New York area turned out not to be needed. Neither were the two U.S. Navy hospital ships delivered, one to New York and another to Los Angeles.
As of this writing, the number of U.S. residents felled by COVID-19 (coronavirus 2019, a vector most likely born in and released from a lab in Wuhan, China) has passed the 500,000 mark.
The number is high, but is in line with similar death tolls in other countries around the world, especially those in most First World countries.
The pandemic seems to be winding down in the U.S., thanks to vaccines produced by various companies inspired and assisted by President Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed.” The pandemic still rages in most of Europe.
The Trump administration mobilized doctors, researchers, and scientists from every corner of the planet to discover a cure, and that mobilization not only produced effective vaccines, but the effort is also on the verge of creating a number of new and very promising treatments.
America shut down and muddled through reasonably well and has now nearly reopened its economy. We, as responsible citizens, did what we were advised would help us get through this “crisis,” which has now gone on for over one full year.
We’re done with it, right?
Our new double-masked and apparently morbidly fearful president — in his recent “address to the nation,” Joe Biden walked, alone, down a flag-festooned hallway bereft of people, fully masked up until reaching the dais where his teleprompter was set up, before removing the vile object from his face — insists that we must keep these muzzles on our faces for the foreseeable future.
In 2002, the U.S. went from seeking out and destroying the (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to bringing democracy to the Middle East, thereby establishing a decades-long presence in countries where we had no right being and consigning too many service men and women to early deaths and debilitating injuries. The same kind of mission creep has taken hold with this fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The goal has gone from flattening the curve to eradicating the disease completely, and too many are suffering — and dying — from the loneliness and despair brought on by the effort.
In consideration of that, I’m wondering how long this now pointless mask mandate is going to last.
We crushed the curve but are still required to wear masks to enter a store, buy gas or even walk along the beach.
If you are afraid of being struck by COVID-19, go ahead, wear your mask, take in all that excess CO2 and keep your distance. If you want to wear a mask, faceguard, helmet, knee pads or a cone on your head to stay “safe,” do it.
But it’s time for those of us who bristle at the muzzle to resist.
If you, like many of us, have received your two-shot vaccine more than two weeks ago, you should begin the transition by not wearing a face covering when walking down a street or along the ocean.
Make a point of not wearing your muzzle and try to enter a shop. Let the owner/manager refuse you service. Thank him or her, and then turn and walk away. Let them know there is a cost to this madness.
It’s got to start somewhere; why not with you?
If you have a cold, sniffle or runny nose, put a mask on and keep your distance, or don’t go out at all until those symptoms are gone. Otherwise, go back to your life as it was before this plague was unleashed.
And take the damned mask off.
James Buckley welcomes comments from readers and will respond to them in his column. Email him at email@example.com.