Governor Greg Abbot (R-TX) dropped the mask mandate effective March 10, 2021 and all hell broke loose. The Democrats and the mainstream media (really one in the same) went nuts declaring a new wave of COVID 19 infections that would overwhelm the Texas healthcare system. President Joe Biden (D) called Texans Neanderthals. You would have thought someone had thrown open the Texas border with Mexico to literally thousand of virus carrying illegal migrants thus increasing the scourge of COVID 19 on an unsuspecting public – wait, no that was Mr. Biden. You would have thought someone was shoving minor children into unsanitary lock downs without testing and exposing them to the virus – wait, no that was Mr. Biden too. As Forrest Gump routinely said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
But here’s the rub. Texas wasn’t the first state to drop the “mask mandate.” It wasn’t even close. According to ABC News:
“Five states — Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota — have ended, or soon will end, statewide mask mandates, despite the looming threat of COVID-19 and highly transmissible variants.
“They’re joining 11 other states — Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee — that never required face coverings statewide.”
That means about one-third of all states have either never had a mask mandate or lifted it recently. So, you might wonder why all of the mass hysteria over Texas lifting the mandate. Let’s first deal with what “lifting the mandate” means and the real rationale for doing it.
Lifting the mandate simply means that state government is no longer going to impose a requirement that everyone wear masks when in retail establishments or in groups at outdoor venues. That means the adults are once again in charge. If you own a business and you have decided that safety concerns require that your employees wear a mask, that is your prerogative – after all it is your business, your investment and your future. If you own a business and you have decided that safety concerns require that your customers also wear a mask, again that is your prerogative. It is also the prerogative of your customers to decline to do business with you. That’s how adults deal with such issues.
It is understandable that in the first months of the pandemic politicians issued extreme mandates virtually shutting down the nation. There was no science – just fear. The fear came from the large number of people dying compared to the small number of cases diagnosed at the beginning. As time passed and more persons were tested, as we realized that many people were contracting the virus and experiencing little or no symptoms and as we saw more and more people actually recovering from the virus, we also saw the ratio of morbidity drop dramatically – so dramatically that the politicians who were busy ruining the economy should have had the common sense to realize that their measures were too severe. They should have had the common sense to realize that it wasn’t the number of persons contracting the virus that was important but rather the number of people dying from the disease – a number that while it steadily increased, also experienced a continuing decline as a ratio against those infected. And they should have had the common sense to realize that no matter how tightly they clamped down on the closure of America the virus kept spreading; no matter how many people wore masks the virus kept spreading and no matter how many businesses closed, people lost their jobs and children went unschooled, the virus kept spreading.
There was never any science that said it was safe to open big box stores while closing main street businesses. There was never any science that said it was safe to have riots on the streets of Portland but dangerous for worshipers to gather in churches. There was never any science that said it was safe to be on a lake in a rowboat, canoe or kayak but dangerous to be in motor boat. There was no science that said golf rake handles, flag pins and golf cups spread the corona virus. And there was no science on the efficacy of masks giving rise to everything from fishnet stockings to chin mounted sneeze guards that all passed for masks. (Our favorite coffee shop in Bend finally grew so weary of the insanity of these faux masks that they openly rebelled against the facemask mandate. My guess is that they had some excellent legal advice that they were at little risk because the mask mandates were arbitrary and capricious – at least as designed and enforced by Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR). These were all decisions by an executive (governor) based on his/her personal fears, biases, or wishful thinking but they were all presented as based on science. And that is the point at which we should have taken the problem from the hands of the politicians and returned it to the people based on actual science. Or at least returned it to the state legislatures which could have debated in public the science, the rationale, the effect and the cost both in terms of public safety and economic damage.
That would have been near the beginning of June 2020, – no later than the anniversary of the founding of our democracy, July 4,2020. And what was the science at that point? Well, the only science about masks was that the corona virus was so small that the weave of cloths constituting masks were not sufficiently small to trap the virus unless of course you also wanted to suffocate the wearer. The best that could be said is that the masks retarded both the volume and distance of a sneeze or heavy breathing – beyond that, nada. And then, leaving aside the actual science of those working on treatments and vaccines, there was virtually no science except mathematics – statistics in fact.
And here is what the science told us:
The corona virus was virulent and easily spread – the statistical results of testing.
While the corona virus spread easily many who were infected were unaware of it because of mild symptoms – the statistical results of testing.
While the corona virus spread easily the severity of the symptoms was proportionally weighted against age as it increased –the elderly were at no greater risk of being infected but the severity of infection was far greater as was the morbidity rate – again the statistical results of testing.
That a crowd of people is a crowd of people and the corona virus was as likely to spread in a riot in downtown Portland as it was at a rock concert or wedding – the statistical results of testing.
That the virus was so widely spread that the use of “contact tracers” was pointless and while they swelled the ranks of the public employee unions it provided virtually no useful information to the government, healthcare workers or the general public. (According to a May 11, 2020 article in Health Affairs the estimated cost of hiring contact tracers was $20 Billion. Needless to say the bloom for contact tracing has quickly come off the roses.)
That you were more likely to contract the corona virus during a visit to a government building than you were in a visit to a restaurant – the statistical results of testing.
What the science of math and statistics did not tell us is the probability of infection rather than the possibility. For instance, it is possible that picking up a can in a supermarket and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes could result in an infection from the corona virus – it is also highly unlikely. And “experts” in lab coats and stethoscopes are never reluctant to venture an opinion on the possibility of infection (usually a very high possibility) they never discuss the probability. (usually very low).
And yet despite this type of information which allows adults to make reasonable judgments we have allowed the political elites to issue edicts unchallenged that have minimized our lives, ruined our businesses and destroyed jobs without stemming the flow of the coronavirus. What progress has been made comes through the rapid develop and deployment of vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson&Johnson along with a long list of improved treatments.
All of this comes as a long way around to reminding all of us that we are a nation of adults who have weathered and parried two and a half centuries of wars, famine, disease, drought, and economic depressions by exercising our native intelligence without the overwhelming edicts of government that we have suffered during this pandemic. What is now being described as “pandemic fatigue” is, in reality, simply a chaffing at being denied our freedoms. Of being willing to step up to our responsibilities of understanding the risks of life and acting intelligently to minimize those risks without government mandates. In states like Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Montana, and Wyoming – where adults are now running the government we see that mandates and restrictions are being lifted and that life has a chance of returning to normal. In states like Washington, Oregon and California where career politicians lack real life experience in anything complex, we are seeing the mandates, the overreach and the edicts continuing.
When asked whether the framers of the Constitution delivered a monarchy or a republic, Benjamin Franklin was said to have responded:
“A Republic if you can keep it.”
And that is once again where we stand today. If you live in one of those states still tied down to strict mandates and edicts you need to resist. You need to act in protest. Even to the point of civil disobedience. And by that I mean the type of civil disobedience fostered by Mahatma Gandhi which freed India from Great Britain and the Rev. Martin Luther King that accelerated the Civil Rights movement. Not the kind now practiced by Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. And most assuredly not the kind practiced by Antifa and Black Lives Matter on the streets of Portland, Oregon.
If you are an adult, please stand up.