Last year I told the story of a gringo who was removed from his flight for refusing to wear Peru’s mandated face shield in addition to a mask. This redux is about my conversion to anti-masking.
I still follow rules and certainly laws. The character in the previous article lost time and money, but the more fervent anti-maskers are ending up on no-fly lists. I can’t imagine that fate for myself or any other expat / wanderlust.
I’m not really an anti-masker in the sense of what most people think an anti-masker is. I don’t deny that COVID-19 was a brutal pandemic that killed millions of people, and society had to implement public health protocols to manage our resources and of course minimize deaths. But I have been defaulting to no mask and have long abandoned the other precautions.
At our family Thanksgiving, I said I was thankful the pandemic was over. I sensed some silent scoffs from the Banana Republicans. Within a week the Omicron variant arrived in the U.S. But I didn’t view my toast premature. I had already read a little about Omicron in the UK, and it seemed to align with what I had already come to understand about the evolution of a coronavirus. They mutate to survive, but while those mutations tend to make it more transmissible, they also make it less lethal. In order for a virus to spread far and wide, especially in the age of modern medicine, it needs to fly under the radar. And nothing does that better than being nonlethal, if not asymptomatic.
So even in the Omicron surge, which added over 100,000 deaths to the U.S. tally, I behaved as if the pandemic were over. The vast majority of those deaths were unvaccinated people who ignored the rules. There’s nothing I can do for them. It’s just a small-scale natural selection, pa mejorar la raza pues.
I’m the coach of my son’s basketball team. One of the children tested positive, near the peak of the Omicron surge in fact, so they cancelled our weekly practice and game. I read the gym policy and confirmed with the manager that, if my child is vaccinated, we can still come to the gym, masks off no less. I emailed all the parents to offer a makeup practice for those players who are vaccinated, and we held one with no masks. This practice was held before the cancelled game and during the required quarantine, with the caveat that only vaccinated people attend. Nobody asked for proof. I only asked parents to respect the gym’s policy. That was enough for me.
My daughters take dance classes at an elite art school, and implied in “elite art” is mad woke, and they still require masks. I follow the rules, but I voiced my opinion to management. And when I say “voiced my opinion,” I mean I asked in a friendly manner something to the tune of, “I’m boosted and the children are vaxxed. What’s the deal? How long are we going to be doing this?”
The manager amicably responded that he didn’t think they would require masks for much longer. A board meeting is upcoming, and he would push for a switch to “recommended.” That was a while ago, so I’m going to request an update (respectfully of course).
I am all about civic responsibility and being safe. But unless we see a variant deadlier than Delta, the pandemic is over as far as I’m concerned. If the hospitals aren’t filling up, I’m back to normal.
Interestingly, while I’ve been back to normal, the United States daily death toll has only recently fallen below 1,000 per day. The seven-day rolling average fell to 982 on March 18, less than three weeks ago. The lion’s share of those deaths were unvaccinated (as high as 10-to-1 during peaks). There is nothing I can do to save them. I’ve done my part. Time to move on.