Masking is Pure Theater for the Vaccinated

- the following article is based on reporting from the New York Times, sited with hyperlinks in the article.

Thursday, on his increasingly outlandish show, “Prime Time,” drama king Chris Cuomo adamantly hammered home the misleading point that the CDC holds no responsibility for the public’s confusion about vaccinations and their efficacy as they relate to Covid and the Delta Variant. “(The CDC has always said that there would be a surge in cases if people refused to get vaccinated),” he argued. “(Therefore, saying that masking is confusing is a cop out. You knew that you would have to wear masks again if people refused to get vaccinated),” he concluded.

This type of argument is dangerous for a few reasons, but mainly because he is using a true premise — or widely accepted assumption — to draw an extremely speculative conclusion. Here is why: It is true that the CDC, and anybody with a brain, knew that cases would increase if a large percentage of people refused to get vaccinated. However, Cuomo is conveniently leaving out the fact that the statistics concerning cases are no longer as important as the ones for hospitalizations and, therefore, should not be the metric. In reality, vaccinated people who become infected are actually still very well protected and rarely find themselves in danger. But if they become sick with the sniffles because of Covid, they are still counted as a Covid case. Should we be more worried about an annoying cough or the prospect of death? That is the difference in being vaccinated and not.

A majority of vaccinated people are not aware of this twist because the CDC and their defense attorneys in the press are not properly updating the public with the science. And if people are not fully informed about the nature of a threat, how can they be confident in their ability to protect themselves? They cannot. Therefore, it is not only understandable but obvious that people are confused about masking.

After all, who is going to feel confident in their vaccination when Chris Cuomo and others are plastering that map, with the case count in blood red and every state in the Union boiling over with misleading data, all over the TV? Many vaccinated people now think that their vaccine is worthless, and the unvaccinated think so ten fold. This type of fear mongering will only make Covid deaths rise as unvaccinated people see the vaccine as pointless. Along with the right-wing media this creates a double whammy that almost guarantees that people will remain steadfast in their anti-vaccination worldview.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have our masks half on, half off, unsure of what to do and for good reason. It is not only reasonable but natural to be confused when data and instructions are withheld or miscommunicated, (by the CDC), and further twisted by fear mongers — whose intentions are to scare people into getting vaccinated but who instead add to the problem. Fear is only a good motivator if people believe in the solution that one is selling. The unvaccinated in this country already do not believe in the vaccination because of right-wing media. Now the vaccinated don’t trust the vaccine because of left-wing media.

The vaccine works. Just look at the data as it relates to hospitalizations. Almost 99.9% of the hospitalized cases are unvaccinated (NewsRoom). That means that we have a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and nothing more. And what more can we do for people who refuse the vaccine but keep encouraging them to do so with incentives and penalties? Because Covid is not going away, just like the Flu and Measles isn’t going away. We treat these things with the most effective weapon we have, vaccines. So, if your expectation or your measure of medical success is the total annihilation of the virus, get over it! Your idea of success has been skewed. Covid will always be here and always be dangerous to those who do not get vaccinated, while the rest of us deal with a day or two of annoying symptoms.

However, if people like Chris Cuomo and others keep driving home this misleading charge that success against Covid is measured in cases and not hospitalizations, we may wear masks for the rest of our lives — the equivalent of a theatrical production or false sense of security…you know, like the one that the TSA performs every time you go to the airport and take off your shoes.

That type of policy is not easy to change, and unless you want to pointlessly wear a mask for the rest of your life, hold the CDC accountable for distributing misleading data about Covid — and the media for its sensationalism of the pandemic. Because people want to know why they are being asked to do something. If the truth is, “We are asking you to wear a mask to protect those who will not help themselves and refuse to protect their children. You can infect the unmasked children of parents who do not care for them,” then just say it. Then the vaccinated can consider the pending risks based on the data. Given that severe childhood Covid is still extremely rare, even taking into account the Delta Variant (NYT), and the fact that the CDC only recommends indoor masking for the vaccinated in “an area of substantial or high transmission,” as of July 30 (NYT), it seems obvious to me that masking for the vaccinated in MN, where I live, is pure theater.

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