This is how confused New Yorkers are about masks. At Barnes & Noble Wednesday, no mask was required to browse the bookshelves, but on the other side of Union Square, the Strand bookstore had mandated masks for all shoppers. Practically everyone inside both stores was wearing a mask, anyway, despite CDC advice that you don’t need one, indoors or outdoors, if you’re vaccinated against COVID-19.
Considering that more than half of Manhattan has been fully vaccinated, something is very wrong with the way we are processing risk. The trust between public health experts and the public is broken and now no one knows what to believe.
We can blame one man above anyone for this parlous state of affairs: Saint Anthony Fauci, the coronavirus czar once hailed as the most trusted man in America for his leadership through the pandemic. He has flip-flopped on every piece of advice, never admits doubt and tells lies with brazen indifference.
But just as with Gov. Cuomo, Fauci’s halo has fallen off with a thud.
“I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals,” he told “Good Morning America.” “But being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low.”
In other words, he was not being truthful in March when he denied Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s accusation at a Senate hearing that Fauci’s obsessive masking-up was pure “theater.”
But by Wednesday morning, Fauci was already walking back Tuesday’s comments, saying people was “misinterpreting” the CDC’s advice on masks.
“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” Fauci told Axios. “It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”
Fauci at this point is being deliberately confusing. He is feeding the mental disorder of vaccinated Karens who cling to their masks. He needs to tell them the truth and stick to it.
The rest of us are not going to have our lives ruled by neurotics anymore. We’re not going to believe his “noble” lies. And we’re not going to allow children’s lives to be further ruined.
Fauci gave cover to teacher unions for keeping schools closed beyond the point of reason last year, when he should have stated clearly the science that children are the least at risk from the virus, and the least likely to pass it on.
He should have used his power and prestige for good. He should have acknowledged that it is cruel to children and detrimental to their social development to force them to wear masks all day, and that doing so is just a sop to malign teacher unions who should not be dictating CDC policy.
A wonderfully brave boy of 10 in Florida did Fauci’s job last week when the kid articulated the feelings of the nation’s children to his school board.
Fourth-grade student John Provenzano said the masks were hot, gave him headaches, stuck to his face, and made him feel “claustrophobic” and anxious.
“All of this seems unfair, and it doesn’t make sense,” he said. “I miss seeing people’s faces. I miss the way things used to be. I’m scared they’ll never go back to normal.”
He spoke poignantly about feeling sad when his teacher did not recognize him without his mask.
“I don’t recognize anyone. It’s this simple state. Do we know any other people? It’s just dehumanizing.”
Reading faces is a crucial part of children’s socialization and helps them learn empathy. There is no telling the damage done to them from the overreaction of the last year.
The admirable stoicism of younger generations speaks well for their ability to face the challenges they will meet in the future, caused almost entirely by the selfishness of their elders throughout the pandemic.
There was no need for young people in the prime of their lives to be muzzled and locked in and denied education, jobs and opportunities.
Older people could have locked themselves in and relied on the young to pick up the reins. But those in charge preferred to shut everything down rather than lose their grip on power. Now they’re piling crippling debt on generations to come.
This is what happens when you let geriatrics run your country. The average age of the three most powerful politicians in the country is over 76. President Biden is 78, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 81 and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is the spring chicken at 70. Fauci is 80.
It’s not healthy. By all means we should incorporate the wisdom of elders in decision-making but not when they are so clearly motivated by self-interest.
It was selfish of grown-ups to pander to their own hypochondria at the expense of children who are not at risk of dying nor of spreading a disease that primarily hits the elderly and the obese.
That was the hidden blessing of the coronavirus we never recognized and have squandered.
Loyalty to Don
Republicans keen to shake Donald Trump loose from the party underestimate his popularity at their peril.
The former president has piles of letters on his desk at Trump Tower from diehard fans all over the country. This week, as a precious token of gratitude, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan sent him his Purple Heart, awarded in 2012 after he was wounded.
In March, a larger gift arrived at Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey: a 20-foot chestnut oak tree grown by a local nursery owner, with a heartfelt, two-page letter written “on behalf of at least 70,000,000 of us.”
“I owe you more than I can give but offer you the best I have,” wrote Tim Terry, of Penny Toss Farm in Washington, NJ. “We are working Americans and we are most grateful.”
Terry explains why he chose the chestnut oak: “Much like you, Sir, the tree does not appear to be what it is. It looks like a Chestnut tree, but it is most definitely an Oak. The distinct, serrated leaves are like armor and in the fall they are scattered by the wind . . . The tree grows quickly once adapted. It can handle ‘adverse conditions.’ It is a resilient specimen . . . . Some would say it is a messy tree. To that I reply it knows well when to get rid of dead wood. The Chestnut Oak provides a broad canopy that offers shade and shelter . . . Yes, this tree reminds me of ‘my president’ . . .
“When you see the bright green leaves in spring and summer I hope you will smile. In the fall when they scatter on the ground, just know they/we are everywhere.”
Trump’s enduring appeal is a resource to be harnessed by the Republican Party, not a burden to be jettisoned.
New York’s publishing world is scratching its head with the news of Gov. Cuomo’s $5.1 million windfall for his pandemic book. Ex-Veep Mike Pence didn’t get as much in his just-inked seven-figure deal.
Cuomo’s tome sold 50,000 copies but hit the bestseller list only because of mysterious bulk purchases.
With the deal costing Crown Publishing $100 per book sold, something is very fishy.