Is the Pandemic Over?

A lot of Americans think so.

A writeup of the latest Gallup poll declares “Three in 10 Americans Think Pandemic Is Over in U.S.

Although a record-high 89% of Americans now say the coronavirus situation is improving, most are not yet ready to declare the pandemic over in the U.S. More than twice as many think the pandemic is not yet over (71%) than think it is over (29%). Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say the pandemic is over, but significant differences also exist by gender, age and region of the country.

There’s a whole lot more at the link but you get the idea.

Obviously, the partisan divergence continues to be the most interesting story:

Democrats are almost universal in believing the pandemic an ongoing concern, while Independents are pretty much in line with the adult population and Republicans closer to one-thirds/two-thirds. (None of the other questions have a party breakdown, at least in the linked summary.) Presumably, this is a function of differing news sources as the regional and even age cohort differences are comparatively modest.

But it’s also a function of how one interprets the question, which itself is likely influenced by question sequencing.

Objectively, the pandemic is far from over. Here is the Worldometers graph of daily new cases in the US:

Clearly, there has been a massive improvement as more and more Americans get vaccinated. Still, we’re tracking as many new daily cases as we were in early March 2020—just as we were starting to implement massive lockdowns across the country. Presumably, that’s partly a function of better testing and tracking. Still, it’s an ongoing concern.

Similarly, people are still dying from the disease:

As with new cases, we’ve seen a major decrease as vaccinations happen. But we’re still losing as many people a day to the disease as we were in March 2020.

These are objective facts and it’s quite possible that the elite media are covering them—and the new Delta variant—more diligently than the infotainment venues that pander to Republicans. But it may simply be a matter of how one interprets the question:

With pandemic-related restrictions in most states now lifted, the amount of disruption Americans see in their everyday lives continues to decline. Less than half of U.S. adults, 46%, currently say their lives are affected “a great deal” or “a fair amount,” but more, 54%, consider their lives to be “not much” or “not at all” disrupted.

Likewise, Americans are increasingly reporting a return to some semblance of normalcy in their lives. While 15% of U.S. adults say their life is “completely back to normal,” 62% describe their life as “somewhat” but not completely normal, and 23% say it is “not yet back to normal.” Moreover, the percentage of U.S. adults who report that normalcy has not been restored in their lives has shrunk by 11 percentage points since May.

In addition to the 15% of U.S. adults who say their lives are already completely back to normal, 46% think their lives will eventually be. However, 40% of Americans do not expect that their lives will ever return entirely to the normal that existed prior to the pandemic.

While I would certainly answer the topline question No, I’m more or less living a pre-pandemic life now. I’ve been back to the office since late July 2020 and those of us who are fully vaccinated—which was some 97 percent of us—stopped having to wear masks the workday after the CDC guideline change. That was just six weeks ago but it seems much longer now.

My 12-year-old got her second Pfizer dose last week, so she’ll be “fully vaccinated” in a few more days. So, we’re only waiting for my just-turned-10-year-old to become eligible. And Fairfax County Schools, which frustrated all of us with its absurd over-caution and refusal to open back up, looks be be opening back up 5 days a week and eliminating social distancing.

A surprising number of folks are still wearing masks in the stores here in the Northern Virginia suburbs of DC. I’m almost certain that the vast majority of them are fully vaccinated, given our high rates locally. So, it’s really a cultural-psychological reluctance to get back to “normal.” On our recent stint in the Outer Banks, it was pretty much the opposite: almost no one was masked indoors, despite relatively low vaccination rates. And, indeed, I suspect most of the mask wearers were tourists rather than locals.

So, in some sense, it really depends on what you mean by “Is the coronavirus pandemic over?” It’s still spreading and killing unvaccinated people. But a huge chunk of the society is living as though that weren’t the case.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Health, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Among those who believe that the pandemic is over we can expect a significant outbreak in the coming weeks as it has already started.

    With regard to those who have been vaccinated continuing to wear masks in many locations, I’ve been joking that masks have become the progressives hijab.

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  2. Kylopod says:

    The irony is that the people who acknowledge the objective fact that the country is still in a pandemic are likeliest to be vaccinated, and hence personally least affected by the pandemic. This makes it different from, say, polls on whether the country is in a recession–where there’s also an objective definition but where people do tend to base the question on their own economic situation.

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  3. Jax says:

    Garth Brooks is playing Allegiant Stadium in Vegas to a sold out crowd on July 10, with 6 more concerts after that. Proof of vaccination is not required, those who are unvaccinated are expected to wear masks. That ain’t gonna happen. That’s 65,000 people at ONE show.

    Looks like we’re about to eff around and find out. 😐

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  4. Moosebreath says:

    “Is the Pandemic Over?
    A lot of Americans think so.”

    A lot of Americans acted like they thought it was over this time last year, as well.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Is the Pandemic Over? Not in the Ozarks it ain’t. It was just pausing to catch it’s breath.

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  6. Scott says:

    The question can be considered by people two ways: Is it over for the country (or state)? Is it over for me?

    For me and my immediate family, it is over. We are fully vaccinated and everything is pretty normal.

    For my son, his wife, and two toddlers, it is not over. He’s vaccinated, she is not because of pregnancy and nursing but planning to at the appropriate time. The two little ones are not and there is small but not insignificant concern there. So there are precautions still taken.

    Here in Texas, there is low infection but starting to creep up again. We’ll see if there will be a small continuous rumbling of infection or if there will be an outbreak.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    Whether or not the pandemic is over is not a matter of opinion. It is objectively not over. There is a rising case, hospitalization, and death rate amongst the unvaccinated. There are entire states where all three things are rising and several where they are rising at 10% per week or more. The fact that Republicans think it is over is an indication that the people they choose as their thought leaders are not competent and are giving them harmful messages.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So, it’s really a cultural-psychological reluctance to get back to “normal.”

    No, no it’s not. I have no reluctance, I just happen to be aware of the fact that even tho I am vaccinated, I can still get it and pass it on to the unvaccinated around me, which is almost 80% of my neighbors*. So even if they want to roll craps with the devil I am not so sociopathic that I want to put my hands on the dice.

    * and 3 of my 4 grandchildren who are still too young

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: It is also indicative of the high regard that Republicans have for their voters.

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  10. Kathy says:

    The pandemic is not over.

    For one thing, the Delta variant can and has infected people who are fully vaccinated. Pfizer’s shot offers good protection against it, but not the 95% efficacy it does against the original strain or other variants. Britain is way ahead in vaccination, and sees rising numbers of cases of Delta variant.

    Second, all those unvaccinated people remain at risk for all variants and the original strain, including minors for whom the vaccines haven’t been authorized. And given the refusal of many to be vaccinated, this will not end soon.

    Third, many countries lag well behind in vaccination. Not just poor countries who’ve been left down by Covax, but also wealthier countries like Australia. This means trump’s most beloved virus keeps circulating widely in such places.

    Fourth, add the points above and there’s a good chance for breakthrough variants.

    No doubt the big pharmaceuticals will develop variant specific boosters. This may lead to rich countries getting booster shots before the rest of the world even finishes vaccinating their populations.

    The way I see it, the pandemic still has months to run at high risk, even for those of us fully vaccinated. I would still advice masks, distancing, and especially avoiding crowded places.

    You’ll know the pandemic’s over when daily cases are measured in scores withing a large country, and at most thousands worldwide, rather than tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands respectively.

    Remember, every time we let out guard down, COVID moves in and clobbers us.

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  11. KM says:

    So, in some sense, it really depends on what you mean by “Is the coronavirus pandemic over?” It’s still spreading and killing unvaccinated people. But a huge chunk of the society is living as though that weren’t the case.

    This is a matter of people not understanding the nuances and meaning of words. They are not interchangeable. No, the pandemic is not over and likely won’t be for decades as the disease is still raging. We’re not going it disappear from whole countries or populations for a long, long time. We still have a plague pandemic going as Y. Pestis is infecting folks around the globe right now for god’s sake. Is the outbreak over? In your area, that may be possible but can flare up again at any time. Outbreaks come and go but that’s most likely what the respondent are thinking of: is the disease in my area (city even if the question says US) done? Can I go back to doing what I want without fear of infection?

    Endemic is a disease or condition regularly found among particular people or in a certain area. An outbreak is more-than-expected cases of an endemic disorder in an area. The outbreak is epidemic if it’s actively spreading and if it goes walkabout to different countries or even continents, it’s a full-blown pandemic. Pandemic carries a sense of urgency and fear since something that’s gone global is usually nasty, fast-spreading and deadly but the colloquial understanding of “OMG wave of death” misses the point. We’ll eventually get to the point where COVID is endemic to certain populations or locations (looking at you, red states!!); it will be a known risk like those commercials that state you should tell the doctor if you live in “areas where certain fungal infections are common”. Certain groups will die from it for years to come due to their beliefs and their future unvaxxed children will either die or acquire lifelong problems from being unfortunately born where they were. Poor countries will see wave after wave till everyone is either immune, vaxxed or dead and travelers will keep bringing it home for the rest of our lives.

    COVID is here to stay. At best, it will be endemic with minor outbreaks but it’s *never* going away. We’ll have to learn to live with it and if you’re properly vaxxed and sensible, you should be fine. We need to be mindful that this state can be easily reversed by stupid actions and behaviors.

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  12. Mimai says:

    As others have noted, the poll question leaves much to be desired, does not yield clear conclusions, produces lots of discussion/debate, etc. Perhaps that’s the point….Gallup has bills to pay too.

    When confronted with a difficult/complex question, we often answer an easier one instead. Here are a few easier ones that people might be answering on this poll:

    Is my life back to “normal”?
    Have I (and my loved ones) been vaccinated?
    Do I know anyone who is sick right now?
    Have those people been over-playing it from the get-go?
    Have those people been down-playing it from the get-go?
    Am I sick of people talking about it all the damn time?

    I’d love to see a poll question framed thusly:

    [after providing reference numbers from throughout the pandemic] How many daily infections would there need to be for you to consider the pandemic over?

    [after providing reference numbers from throughout the pandemic] How many daily deaths would there need to be for you to consider the pandemic over?

    I wonder how the OTB community would answer these questions. I’m not sure how I would. Will noodle.

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  13. mattbernius says:

    I’ve seen a number of medical historians and public health folks essentially say the “pandemic” will never truly be over in that COVID-19 and its variants will be around for the foreseeable future (not unlike the flu). The real question is what will we, as a society, will settle on as an acceptable number of hospitalizations and deaths in a year (much like the flu).

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  14. Kylopod says:

    @mattbernius:

    I’ve seen a number of medical historians and public health folks essentially say the “pandemic” will never truly be over in that COVID-19 and its variants will be around for the foreseeable future (not unlike the flu).

    Is flu a pandemic? Just because a disease is still around and still kills a lot of people doesn’t make it a pandemic. Conversely, Covid-19 doesn’t need to disappear in order for us to say it isn’t a pandemic any longer.

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  15. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    Good points.

    I want to amend part of my post. The emergency phase of the pandemic will run for a few more months yet, if not years.

    Singapore is about ready to treat COVID like a bad flu once vaccination rates reach around 70% of its population, which they expect to happen by August. To date, they’ve done a decent job containing the spread internally, with under 50 deaths and only ten to 20 new daily cases. We’ll see how that goes.

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  16. Teve says:

    In my Trumper county of north Florida, 30% of the age 12+ residents are vaxxed. I’m the only member of my family who’s vaxxed.

    This thing will never be over; it’ll become endemic.

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  17. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I just happen to be aware of the fact that even tho I am vaccinated, I can still get it and pass it on to the unvaccinated around me, which is almost 80% of my neighbors*

    Yes, but the chances of that are infinitescimile.

    @Kathy: @KM: In fairness, the actual poll question appended “in the United States.” Granted, variants continue to spread and come in from elsewhere. But the question wasn’t whether it was over elsewhere.

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  18. KM says:

    @Mimai:
    Change “pandemic” out. Make it “local outbreak”, “state outbreak” or “national outbreak”.

    [after providing reference numbers from throughout the pandemic] How many daily infections would there need to be for you to consider the pandemic local outbreak over?

    Single digit percentage of infections over the course of a week in all area testing. So you test 1,000 people for whatever reason, less than 10 new cases. Anything more implies active spread, not localized issues. Note: doesn’t mean it’s an emergency, just it’s not over.

    [after providing reference numbers from throughout the pandemic] How many daily deaths would there need to be for you to consider the pandemic local outbreak over?

    Again, single digits. Nobody should be dying of this anymore. Dying of diseases like this should be rare. We are at the point where deaths should be able to be counted on one hand per week at worst in a county. Anything more is a problem and indicates more underlying infections and active cases.

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  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Functionally? Here in Connecticut, a leader in vaccinations, it is functionally over. I don’t even carry a mask in the car anymore.
    But I’m headed to the Great Smoky Mountains in September, and I am going to be thinking about precautions very carefully.
    Also – I had planned on attending a 3 day event in Alabama…but that’s just flat-out off the table.

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  20. Mimai says:

    @KM:

    I like your suggested change…..enhances precision. [Also, great comment here: @KM:]

    Of course, that assumes precision is the point. It is to me. And to you. Sadly, polls are often not about precision. Rorschach polls seem to be more popular.

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  21. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yes, but the chances of that are infinitescimile.

    Wrong!

    Your risk of hospitalization or death is very low, but asymptomatic and mild infections are pretty common in fully vaccinated people, especially with the highly infectious delta and delta plus variants.

    I plan to keep masking at the supermarket etc.

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  22. Kylopod says:

    @charon: I watched an interview with an infectious disease expert a few weeks ago, and he said the chances of a vaccinated person with asymptomatic Covid passing it to someone unvaccinated are low.

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  23. charon says:

    Rapidly rising new cases in Israel, the most fully vaccinated country anywhere.

    https://twitter.com/EricTopol/status/1409653357761814533

    In Israel, where Delta is becoming the dominant strain, and vaccinations are in over 80% of the adult population (>60% fully vaccinated total population), there is a rise in cases (today to 308) but without increase in hospitalizations or deaths

    There is a graphic at the link.

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  24. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Multiply the low chance by the number of people vaccinated, then by the number of interactions they have with other people, then by the number of days they have such interactions.

    You hit a kind of lottery paradox. The chance that a particular vaccinated person will infect a particular unvaccinated person are very low. The odds of unvaccinated people getting infected by vaccinated people are nearly 100%.

    Countries that get to herd immunity through vaccination, however high the number is, and manage to keep out unvaccinated and/or infected people, won’t be having these arguments.

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  25. sam says:
  26. grumpy realist says:

    Covid-19 and all its variants is probably going to turn into “one of those things that old people die of”, rather than tuberculosis and flu. Which means we’ll never really get rid of it. The question is, how low does it have to get before we start feeling “well, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

    It also looks like we’re testing out the idea of “Yay, Covid has really gone down so I can attend a packed summer concert even though I haven’t been immunised.”

    Stupid people will discover the ramification of stupid actions….I’ve given up. Let people drive around with motorcycle helmets (other name for such: still mobile organ donor) and all the other idiocies people like to indulge in. Just make sure you have your will in order, mmmkay?

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  27. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:

    Is flu a pandemic? Just because a disease is still around and still kills a lot of people doesn’t make it a pandemic. Conversely, Covid-19 doesn’t need to disappear in order for us to say it isn’t a pandemic any longer.

    Correct. And @KM wrote and posted his far smarter post on the topic while I was drafting my slightly daft one.

    I completely agree, long after the pandemic is over, the endemic of C-19 will continue.

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  28. de stijl says:

    This is entirely selfish.

    When masks were de rigueur I did not have to denture up before leaving the house. It was extremely liberating. A joy.

    And also, as someone with anxiety issues, masks were a bridge. Bridge is the wrong word.

    Masks allowed me to act slightly freer amongst all you unwashed lot eyeballing me and judging me. That is objectively stupid. I know it. It still felt true. Most of you bathe daily. I hope.

    The combination of PTSD and anxiety and agoraphobia and avoidance (the triple A’s) can wreak havoc on your brain and seriously impact simple stuff that requires you to leave the house or proactively make a phone call.

    Pre PTSD me could have handled that issue easy before lunch with time to spare. No problem, easy peasy. Avoidant me is very smart at inventing reasons why I should do that tomorrow and not now. And then tomorrow again. Wednesday, certainly is better than now. You get the picture. Doing it now would require interaction with people I do know and trust.

    Avoidance is the most insidious and harmful in my mind.

    Did I mention PTSD and subsequent downstream effects suck?

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  29. charon says:

    Four charts on this page, I mostly look at the bottom one.

    Several states are showing pretty rapidly rising trends in new cases.

    https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/

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  30. charon says:

    @charon:

    In order to make any sense of that chart, change the x-axis to be “days ago, recent 8 weeks.”

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  31. KM says:

    @mattbernius:
    Thanks but in honor of the other thread, it’s “she” or “they” 🙂

    @de stijl:
    Masks were indeed liberating. Do you know how awesome it was to go out of the house with no makeup on anywhere I wanted? No worrying about lipstick touchups, skin tone issues or even lingering coffee stains on teeth. Nope, on goes the cloth and suddenly beauty standards can go take a hike. I also noticed a drastic reduction in stupid come-ons, catcalls or comments like “smile more” because you couldn’t see my face. Now that I can go out without one, I’m debating if I really do need to conform to society’s standards or just walk around looking like fresh hell at 7am.

    PTSD sucks, though. I’ve found some generalized anxiety can be handled with mediation and breathing exercises. May I ask if you have tried apps like Headspace or Youtube videos on the subject?

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  32. Teve says:

    @charon: whatever Nevada, Missouri, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Utah just started doing, they need to knock it off.

    But come to think of it, that’s probably always true.

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  33. flat earth luddite says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I’m with you. Retired me is still working retail a few evenings a week. I’m fully vaccinated, but SWMBO’d decided that she wasn’t gonna get no stupid second shot because people were telling her she had to (or something like that). Smiling Panda Mask* at work hides my disgust with less than pleasant customers, and helps make sure I don’t bring this home to make her sick. Ditto at grocery and liquor stores (which still require a mask until tomorrow).

    *besides, I’ve noted that when people see a short older guy with a maniacally grinning panda face mask and a cane, they tend to stay outside the 6′ range, which improves my happiness quotient. Win-Win-Win for me!

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  34. Mikey says:

    Tweet thread from Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

    https://twitter.com/ashishkjha/status/1409526278332497925?s=20

    Watching Delta variant take off across world

    What will it take to control it?

    Vaccines & public health measures of course

    Here in US, we’re abandoning PH measures (masks, distancing)

    So vaccines

    How much?

    My estimate: 60% of Americans fully vaccinated

    We’re at 46%

    Thread

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  35. charon says:

    @Teve:

    I believe we will increasingly see localized hotspots.

    Southwest Missouri, East Texas and Northwest Colorado (Boebertland) are currently in the barrel.

    https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/

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  36. EddieInCA says:

    A quote from our head nurse, trying to get a hardheaded crew member to understand why we still need masks, social distancing, and vaccines while working.

    “We’re in the top of the 6th inning, but it’s only a 4-3 ball game, and the there are runners are 1st and 2nd. Depending on how our pitching (masks) and defense (vaccines) goes, we could win this 4-3 or we could lose, or we could get blown out. ”

    His assesment: “It’s going to get bad again, but in a very bifurcated way. Some areas of the country – mostly urban and blue – are going to be living life like normal. Other areas – mostly rural and red – are going to have a horrible rest of the year.”

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  37. charon says:

    Huge variations in new cases per 100K various states.

    Worst is NV at 16.0, 5th worst UT 11.8.

    At the other end of spectrum #43 NY 1.7; #48 PA 1.4; #50 PR 1.2; #52 MA 0.8; #53 VT 0.8.

    It’s not just vaccination, behavior matters also.

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  38. charon says:

    https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-941fcf43d9731c76c16e7354f5d5e187

    An Associated Press analysis of available government data from May shows that “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That’s about 0.1%.

    And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8%, or five deaths per day on average.

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  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: No kidding. Still, Covid-19 succeeded in something that living 8 years in Korea failed to–convincing me to wear a mask during a potential health crisis. I continue to wear a mask at the store and other public places. Partly out of habit, to be sure, but partly out of the realization that it is now possible (and yes Dr. Joyner and all the others, highly unlikely) for me to be an asymptomatic carrier. With COPD, I have no practical ability to self-screen–I check all the boxes except high fever and loss of sense of taste 24/7, so I try to take measures so that I won’t infect others accidently/inadvertently. This is a step forward. While I was in Korea and before, I wouldn’t have cared.

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  40. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist: (I could have sworn I typed “….without motorcycle helmets….”) Yah. If you’re going to be silly enough to ride a motorcycle, please please please wear a helmet.

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  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: “Remember, every time we let out guard down, COVID moves in and clobbers us.”

    THIS!!!! Exactly! Thank you for continuing to remind us!

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  42. mattbernius says:

    @KM:

    Thanks but in honor of the other thread, it’s “she” or “they”

    My apologies. I should always remember to default to “they.”

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  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: To start you out, I’ll pick zero and zero as my answers. (Understanding that I might consider a weekly/monthly average >zero as “close enough.”)

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  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: For Washington State, the trend line doesn’t seem to show particular acceleration (or I can’t read graphs well–both are possible) but at number 6 overall, it seems that my guess about continuing to mask was pretty good. (And, not to tell our governor how to make decisions, I wouldn’t have declared a relaxing of restrictions.)

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  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: Zeeb, I feel your pain with SWMBO. Ya can’t fix that kind of stubborn, though (like you didn’t know that [smirk emoji]). And it is ironic that the previous rant was “it’s stupid to keep people who want to get the shot from getting it just because people who don’t want the shot are older” or sumpin like that. Good to know that the panda mask is good for social distancing. In Korea it’s very popular–almost as popular as the Mickey Mouse waffle iron and the panda face toaster.

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  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: “–mostly rural and red –”

    Yet another factor in my mask or not mask evaluation.

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Yes, but the chances of that are infinitescimile.

    Not according to what I have read.

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  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: Stupid people will discover the ramification of stupid actions….I’ve given up. Let people drive around with motorcycle helmets

    My mother was a nurse who worked in Neural ICU. The ward always had a number of brain dead motorcyclists. Take a guess how much their insurance was covering. Whatever your guess (and I would have no idea how much it would avg out to) it should be less than 100%. Society picks up the balance.

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  49. CSK says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    I’m going to get a Magic Marker and draw a smiley on my masks.

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  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    I just had my routine yearly bloodwork done this morning – a reminder that there are so many other lovely things that want to kill me and this coronavirus is just one.

    Life is about assessing and prioritizing risk. I consider a 10% chance that a variant will penetrate my Moderna armor, manageable. But in general I dislike endless focus on harm reduction. At some point we’ll be orchids, exotics unable to manage outside of a very narrow range of environments. Fear breeds fear, and there’s no natural end to that, so you have to make choices. You have to accept some risk in life.

    He says, lighting his cigar, seated as usual, breathing LA air and looking forward to a dinner likely to include any number of scary, scary ingredients plus alcohol. You make choices, you take risks, eventually you get sick and die, but whether you die of vice or die without inherent moral commentary at all, you do die.

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  51. BugManDan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I don’t give a crap about those who choose not to vaccinate (does that make me a sociopath? maybe.) But I still wear a mask because my 11 yo cannot get the vaccine and I don’t want to catch a minor case and give it to her when she only has to make it at most 6 months until she can get vaccinated.

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  52. Jax says:

    @BugManDan: Rather than considering ourselves sociopaths, let’s just rest easy knowing that most of these dumbasses who refuse to get vaccinated generally post memes and status updates indicating they’d happily send all liberals and…everybody not a Trumpy to concentration camps…and be grateful Garth Brooks is about to host 7 super-spreader events targeted to exactly those people.

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  53. Teve says:

    @BugManDan: I have a bit of interest in this because my best friend growing up was a sociopath and I refused to see it for 20 years. He was super-knowledgeable, and well read, in a dumb hick town, that I looked past everything just to have someone to talk to about linguistics, and chemistry, and biology, and physics, and being around him was so much better than the typical assortment. One day about 10 years ago I was living with him in Tampa and he said a few things that I couldn’t ignore, and I realized, finally, oh, Mike is a sociopath. Nobody could say, about his girlfriend, what he just said to me in front of her. He doesn’t have normal human empathy. He could stab you as easily as he could stab a malfunctioning toaster. And I thought back and thought about the research showing that most sociopaths who had been studied, had some serious trauma between the ages of three and five, and holy shit he had exactly that sort of thing happen in Kindergarten. If you think you might be a sociopath, ask yourself, if I saw an innocent person tortured in front of me, would I feel bad. If the answer is yes, you’re not a sociopath.

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  54. de stijl says:

    @KM:

    I do meditation daily and deep breathing three or four times day at least. I walk for an hour every day now

    I stopped my meds during the pandemic because I left the house maybe once or twice a week. What was the point?

    That was an adjustment, sure. I do miss the warm bubble where nothing and no one can touch me. I do not miss the bubble collapsing, becoming irrationally paranoid, and knowing I was heading towards hyperventilation and maybe a panic attack.

    I no longer have the warm, soft SSRI bubble, but I am less prone to freaking out randomly.

    On balance, I call that a win.

    I’m cool as ice with people I know and generally cope with places I know.

    Next time some jack-hole tells you to “smile more” tell them “No. Thanks. I’m good” and walk away. Leaves them baffled and leaves you internally high-fiving yourself for bad-ass awesomeness as you power strut away.

    I do unguided meditation. I used to suck at it, but now I really look forward to it. A quiet brain is good.

    One song I absolutely adore is You Were Cool by The Mountain Goats. Myself, I identify with the narrator. As the one giving the affirmations.

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  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: “…and be grateful Garth Brooks is about to host 7 super-spreader events targeted to exactly those people.”

    (You’re not supposed to say the sociopathic part out loud 😉 )

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  56. Jax says:

    @de stijl:

    Next time some jack-hole tells you to “smile more” tell them “No. Thanks. I’m good” and walk away. Leaves them baffled and leaves you internally high-fiving yourself for bad-ass awesomeness as you power strut away.

    Except it doesn’t. Been there, done that, ended up with a pissed off stalker I had to get a restraining order on, and the restraining order never worked until I moved halfway across the country.

    I mean, at the stage we’re at, if they tell us to smile more, we should probably just shoot them and get on with the revolution. 😛

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  57. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: See above comment. I wouldn’t have gone there if they didn’t make me. 😉

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  58. Jax says:

    Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
    Streets are uneven when you’re down
    When you’re strange

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJY8jJkDoMY

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  59. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    Sociopathy can be a choice. It’s like an app you can open and use when necessary. I see it as a defensive weapon and an analytical tool. The sociopath can see things clearly, unencumbered by secondary concerns of right and wrong, popular and unpopular.

    We contain multitudes in the big pink cauliflower between our ears. Empathy is a choice, so is its absence.

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