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Don’t look now, but mask mandates may never go away


Timothy Carney

Timothy Carney, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute


Some people want to force you and your children to wear a mask forever.

 They don’t admit it. Some of them may not even realize that’s what they’re advocating. But that’s the only logical conclusion from their proclamations and mandates. 

Politicians, public-health authorities, and certain media types will always have a specific reason to tell you that today, in this place, you need to wear a mask. But that reason constantly changes, and when you follow the trajectory of these changes, you realize they never want to see your stinkin’ face again.

Long after Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live, reported that 99% of eligible residents had at least one shot of the vaccine, the county still required masks in church, Home Depot, libraries, and so on. Low rates of hospitalization, low rates of death, and near-universal vaccination didn’t trigger a repeal of the mask mandate. We finally got a temporary reprieve recently when case counts fell low enough for long enough.

 But counting cases in these situations is absurd. The biggest advantage of the vaccines is making COVID cases mild. We also know that children almost never get seriously ill from the virus. Keep digging, and you see that these excuses for mask mandates are just excuses. And they’ll keep changing.

 Worst of all was CDC director Rochelle Walensky in a late October video. 

“The evidence is clear,” she said. Masks can help reduce your chance of Covid-19 infection by more than 80%.” But there’s no proof for that claim.

And she went on, showing her hand:

“Masks also help protect from the flu, coronavirus, or even just the common cold.”

That is, masks will continue no matter what happens to COVID.

At ABC News recently, a physician wrote a piece providing “5 reasons to keep following public health measures for a bit longer.” Notably, two of those five reasons regarded the cold or the flu.

Over Twitter, my interlocutors have given a thousand other reasons, including not liking to see people’s mouths and noses.

And here’s what makes it particularly awful: The politicians imposing these rules don’t seem to believe that masks are an important tool for fighting COVID. If they did, they would wear masks for purposes other than signalling.

Joe Biden was caught on video walking through a D.C. restaurant maskless. You may say that a vaccinated man walking maskless to his table is not a threat to spread COVID, especially considering that diners are all unmasked during dinner anyway. You would be right. That’s why it’s absurd that DC nevertheless requires diners to wear their masks while entering, exiting, or going to the bathroom.

It’s not simply ridiculous, it’s oppressive. Mayor Muriel Bowser was repeatedly caught going maskless indoors in DC at crowded events, and she called the criticisms stupid. She knew that she wasn’t endangering anyone by being maskless. So they are imposing mandates on all of us that they know for a fact aren’t needed.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul posed recently on a crowded stairway with a dozen Broadway actresses. Hochul and all the actresses were unmasked, yet New York requires school children and even 2-year-olds in daycare to mask up.

My congressman, Jamie Raskin, violated the county mask mandate last month to pose for pictures during a Democratic Party fundraiser. 

I could go on forever. The point is that these politicians and officials have shown that mask rules aren’t about stopping spread of covid. If they were, the politicians would obey the rules, they wouldn’t use flu to justify them, and they would scrap the mandates in conditions of high vaccination or low risk. 

The easiest conclusion is that mask mandates are really about exerting power over ordinary people. And no politician or bureaucrat will ever give that up.


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