The mayor of New York has said some pretty dumb things over the last couple of years, but he’s really been on fire the last week or so. A few days ago, Eric Adams claimed that bringing prayer back into public schools would reduce mass shootings. If that weren’t enough, he’s now calling on everyone in the city to take their masks off before entering stores. He seems to believe that criminals are using N95 respirators to conceal their identities, so they can commit armed robbery.
Don’t “worry,” you just have to take your mask off for a few seconds to present your full naked face to security. Then you can put it back on—you know, after you’ve inhaled a nice big dose of dirty air.
Doesn’t that sound fair?
Before we go any further, there’s a really simple way around this problem. If store clerks are worried about armed robbers, then don’t ask normal people to take off their masks when they enter a store. Just ask them to show their ID. Just pull your ID out of your pocket and hold it up as you walk in. I can’t think of a better way to say, “I’m not a criminal. I just care about my health…and yours.”
Would that work?
First, I guess we should address the immediate concern: armed robberies. They spiked last year, with more than 17,000. There’s a few obvious reasons for that. People are broke. They don’t make enough to live, even if they work a full-time job. There’s also way too many guns in this country, and few if any enforceable laws keeping them away from criminals. Maybe we should address those problems before demanding health-conscious citizens to expose themselves to a virus that we know causes brain damage and organ failure while shredding your immune system. I guess it’s easier to blame society’s problems on the immunocompromised.
Now let’s review the fundamental misunderstanding of science that makes the mayor’s “request” sound remotely sane. For the millionth time, Covid is airborne. It can hang in the air for hours. It doesn’t matter if there’s someone standing in front of you or not. If someone with Covid walks through a store without a mask, then they’ve spread Covid all over the place. It’s not safe to breathe.
In fact, one person walking through a store without a mask arguably does far more damage to society than one armed robber. We don’t think about it like that, because you can see guns. You can’t see viruses.
Imagine if we could…
There have been a couple of studies that claim there’s “no evidence” that masking stops the transmission of disease. Let’s cut the crap and get down to common sense. We all know how the public has been wearing masks over the last few years. They drape them under their nose. They tuck them under their chin. They take them off to say hi to friends. They wear cloth or surgical masks instead of the N95s that actually fit your face. We also know that a lot of people lied about wearing a mask, whether they were posting about it on social media or responding to a survey. So in truth, masks don’t work because they don’t use them properly. The fact that the mayor of New York thinks it’s okay to take your mask off and put it back on in a store proves just how little our leaders understand.
There’s no doubt that armed robbery hurts the economy, but it doesn’t even come close to the economic damage Covid continues to inflict. We’re talking about a public health crisis with a $4 trillion price tag. It’s keeping millions of Americans from working. By now, every single one of us knows at least one person who can’t function anymore because of Long Covid. Nobody even tries to help them. They’re just tossed aside like a broken toy.
I know a few…
That’s the fundamental insanity of late-stage capitalism. You can argue all you want. It changes nothing. The staunch defenders of this ideology don’t even seem to grasp what’s in their best interest in the long run. Even assuming you love profit and value it above all else, sound economic thought would caution you against the sacrifice of a healthy, able-bodied population to chronic disease and early death. And yet that seems to be what we’re doing.
Here’s the inconvenient truth in all its glory: Absolutely nothing about this pandemic has changed, at least not for the better. The mass media has simply conditioned everyone to accept a permanent rise in the death rate, a consistent 8-10 percent higher than before the pandemic, every single day. They’ve also conditioned out of us any sense of public health or social responsibility, and it’s spilling over into our reaction to other threats. They did it at the behest of billionaires, who fretted over the loss of short term profits. Now they want to portray anyone who still cares as a potential criminal. Part of me wonders if they even believe it, or whether they simply see it as a convenient excuse to sand off any remaining guilt someone would have for not wearing a mask. Now apparently not wearing a mask makes you a morally upright and considerate person. It’s quite a flip.
It puts us on the defensive.
If you wear a mask (N95 respirator or above), you’re not a criminal. You’re not a moral deviant. You’re not hysterical or paranoid. You’re not a coward. You’re not weak. You’re not a sheep. You’re not imposing any kind of burden on anyone, even though non-maskers increasingly act like the very sight of us triggers some kind of trauma. You’re displaying a form of moral integrity that’s increasingly rare. You’re actually paying attention to reality.
You don’t hear it often enough:
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Thank you for an article of sense and, for me and others similar to me, I think, reassurance that we are not stupid or foolish or worse, simply because we choose to protect ourselves and others in a way that we've been assured is worthwhile and one which rationality supports - at least on the evidence of which I'm aware as having been publicly aired so far.
Whether that evidence is right or wrong and whether proper wearing of a K95 mask actually does protect me and others subject to my exhalations, my answer to those who question or mock it is simple: "If it does no good at all, I am no worse off. If it does even a little good then I am better off." ergo, until I clearly know better, it seems the more rational choice is to wear a mask. ☮️
"Just ask them to show their ID. Just pull your ID out of your pocket and hold it up as you walk in."
Which is what we do now to go into Costco - no big deal.
In the 90s, I spent some time in Tel Aviv. Entrance to any mall type of complex required a quick security check - briefly open any bags or purses, flash your coat open and proceed in. Armed robberies mean guns and that's what they were checking for - again, no big deal.
In my case, besides being older than dirt, I need to protect a vulnerable family member and therefore wearing an N95 mask is mandatory in any public building. It's not an option - I would never enter any public building that required taking off my mask for any amount of time.
Thanks for your continued coverage of these health risks.