The Corner

Politics & Policy

Two Years to Slow the Spread

People wait for COVID-19 testing at a mobile testing location along 5th Avenue in New York City, December 13, 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

In a few weeks the U.S. will almost certainly shatter all records for coronavirus infections; looking over at the U.K., which is one-fifth our size, is more fully vaccinated than we are, and which has instituted a series of severely draconian lockdowns, there are 62,000 infections right now, and the number is still shooting up. That translates to 310,000 infections in the U.S. We’ve never logged worse than about 250,000 a day. When we see these kinds of numbers in the U.S., many heads are going to explode and many policy-makers are going to try to put the hammer down on the citizens for supposedly being “irresponsible” or “not taking the virus seriously.”

In New York City this week there has been a mood collapse. The city feels about ten seconds away from full-blown panic, led by our panicker in chief, our accidental Governor Kathy Hochul. In Broadway theaters — a fully vaccinated environment in which all audience members are required to be masked — a few performers have nevertheless come down with mild Covid cases and so Hamilton, Jagged Little Pill, Mrs. Doubtfire, and several other shows have canceled performances during peak tourist season. Moulin Rouge canceled a performance while audience members were in their seats waiting for the curtain to go up. New York Post restaurant writer Steve Cuozzo has the same feeling I do: Thanks to Hochul’s hysteria, urged on by neurotic and fear-driven media personalities, New York is on the brink of returning to a March 2020–style shutdown that will have catastrophic effects. Meanwhile, in Florida, which resisted both shutdowns and masking, life goes on as usual, and the infection rate is less than one-third what it is in New York City.

The prospect of going through another round of shutdowns and school closings is madness. We must not allow our leaders to entertain them.

People are going to keep getting Covid for some time. People who have been vaccinated and are willing to accept the risk of exposure should be able to go on with their lives. Pointing fingers in an effort to find bad people to blame is a waste of time. Just four months after the northern media threw themselves a party mocking southern troglodytes and Fox News watchers for supposedly enacting a cult of death after infections surged in the South, the virus is rampaging through the North again. The states with the highest infection rates are Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The states with the lowest infection rates are Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana, and Alabama. New York City’s infection rate is more than triple Florida’s.

All of this is just as I and many others predicted. By now it really should be dawning on progressives and the media that what we’ve all been saying at NR for many months has been true: The virus doesn’t care where you live or how virtuous you are. New York City has had vaccine requirements in place in restaurants and theaters for months, and the virus is spreading in restaurants and theaters. We’re developmentally crushing our children with unnecessary and ineffective masking requirements, and yet there are a few cases in schools that will doubtless make Hochul and others start to think that we can’t afford the risk of in-person learning. Yet thanks to the Bangladesh mask study, which found months ago that cloth masks had essentially no effect and even surgical masks only had a slight effect, we know that masking and other progressive-adored rituals are not going to be the path out of the pandemic. The virus is going to keep going until it burns out.

If you’ve been vaccinated, your chances of avoiding serious illness are excellent. If you haven’t been vaccinated, that’s your choice. But there will always be some significant number of Americans who shun the vaccines, and we’re going to have to live with that too. We can’t allow panicky leaders to treat us like prisoners of Covid as we head into Year Three of the pandemic in America. Life must go on.


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