Retail Employees as Vaccine Police

The new CDC guidelines raise some serious questions.

When the Centers for Disease Control surprised everyone last week by announcing that fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities, eschewing the masking and social distancing practices of the past year-plus, I simultaneously welcomed the news and wondered how stores, restaurants, and other customers would know who was vaccinated. The immediate aftermath of the decision shows businesses haven’t figured that out, either.

An NBC News report (“Vaccination police? New mask guidance could put grocery workers at risk, labor advocates warn“) notes that, once again, frontline workers are in a no-win situation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has weighed in, but your local supermarket might have other ideas when it comes to mask mandates. The beleaguered retail sector found itself thrust onto the front lines of the politicized fight over mask-wearing with the agency’s new guidance issued Thursday.

Phil Lempert, founder of SupermarketGuru.com, predicted that grocery stores won’t do away with mask requirements, at least for workers. “Retailers are going to mandate or bribe with bonuses or added pay that employees continue to wear masks,” he said.

Associations and unions representing workers pushed back on the CDC’s assertion that fully vaccinated people can dispense with wearing masks, raising alarms that employees could be at risk in the absence of a way to verify the vaccination status of shoppers.

United Food and Commercial Workers International, a union representing grocery store workers, issued a statement critical of the new guidance, saying it was “confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.”

The union expressed concern about the potential hostility workers could face. “Workers are still forced to play mask police,” the statement said. “Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”

The CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci have answered the question in the negative. Indeed, they have said that we should just trust our fellow citizens to do the right thing. But, rather obviously, the last fifteen months have demonstrated the folly of that position.

Here in Virginia, the governor almost immediately rescinded his restrictive orders to align with the CDC recommendations. With the caveat, however, that business owners can impose further restrictions. Which has had the predictable effect of adding confusion.

The announcement has the potential to be a PR minefield for stores, especially national chains like big-box and department stores, said Nick Shields, a senior analyst covering the retail sector at Third Bridge investment firm.

“They’re very cautious about PR over the next couple of months,” he said. Stores will have to walk a tightrope between making sure employees feel safe while accommodating the varying and potentially clashing preferences of shoppers, he added.

Shields predicted that shifting guidelines on masking could prompt some customer-facing employees who have not yet been vaccinated to do so, and added that masking might be a habit that some prefer to keep. “It’s likely that you’ll see employees be much more willing to keep their masks on for longer, just given the sheer number of people they’re exposed to on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Regardless, there are two sets of pressures. Previously, business owners could point to state mandates to justify masking requirements. Now, they have to take responsibility for the decision. Previously, since everyone had to mask, there was no need to distinguish between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Now, that’s more complicated.

At this point, I have very little sympathy for frontline workers who have refused vaccination. They’ve been eligible for months now. Those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, alas, are in a tough situation but it’s frankly unreasonable to impose permanent restrictions on the rest of us to compensate.

Right now, the two largest supermarket chains in our area, Safeway and Giant, have continued to impose mask restrictions. (Indeed, I made a quick run to Safeway yesterday afternoon and was befuddled that they were still requiring masks. And then they played the old announcement that they were doing so to comply with state guidelines which, of course, they aren’t.) If that continues, frankly, I’m likely to explore other options. Similarly, Target imposes mask restrictions and Walmart doesn’t. Guess where I’ll be shopping.

With rare exceptions, the vaccinated are safe and pose essentially no danger to others. Unvaccinated people who take advantage of the new policy by pretending that they’re vaccinated and refuse to mask are only a danger to themselves and other unvaccinated people. Alas, as I noted in my initial reaction to the announcement, that includes most young people and all children under 16.

In an ideal world, we could trust the unvaccinated to continue taking the appropriate measures. But, since most adults in that category are refusniks, they by definition can’t be trusted. So, that means we have to just live with their existence as potential disease vectors or we have to screen them out.

Absent vaccine passports, which almost no states have adopted and President Biden has refused to implement at the federal level, retailers might have to create their own.

Lempert said one solution for large chains could be the integration of a kind of vaccine passport into their loyalty programs. “A technology play could be that you scan your vaccination card into your supermarket app, and you just scan a QR code as you walk in the store for verification,” he said.

Which, again, would put employees in the uncomfortable and perhaps dangerous position of verification. My guess, then, is that we’ll simply insist those employees get vaccinated and do away with masking.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Economics and Business
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. Businesses should have the right to set masking and social distancing rules. Unless you are in Florida where DeSantis signed a questionable Executive Order barring private companies from setting their own rules at their places of business.

    11
  2. Jen says:

    “May the odds be ever in your favor” is now official policy.

    I wish the anti-vaxxers all the luck navigating their new, increasingly dangerous, forays out.

    6
  3. Scott says:

    I know several people who are not vaccinated for a variety of reasons. One neighbor had COVID, is still on steroid treatments, and is not advised to be vaccinated. Another is my pregnant daughter in law who is due in June. Chose not to be vaccinated because the science was squishy at time for pregnant women. In hindsight, it probably would’ve been OK. Still does only curbside for groceries.

    So there are people out there who are not vaccinated for a variety of reason. Of course, they are they ones who will keep taking precautions.

    3
  4. ptfe says:

    @Scott: And they’ll increasingly come under fire from the anti-mask brigade as sheep living in fear. Good luck to them – it’s a tough hill to climb.

    Youngsters will also be passing this around for years unless we get them jabbed. Small correction: kids down to 12 can now get the Pfizer vaccine in some places. That includes my kid, who turned 12 over the weekend and will get the shot this week. (Happy birthday, I guess?)

    4
  5. MarkedMan says:

    With rare exceptions, the vaccinated are safe and pose essentially no danger to others.

    There are nine Yankees who prove the opposite. They were vaccinated and at least one of them got the disease and spread it to the rest. Asymptomatic, but if they came into contact with an unvaccinated person they would likely have spread it to them.

    Like you, I feel that people, especially people dealing with the public, are responsible for getting themselves vaccinated. But I think you are underselling the remaining risk. And unlike you, I don’t think that Walmart is making a rational decision based on science. The family themselves are Trumpers, and they have shown over the years that they have little respect for their workers.

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  6. Bob@Youngstown says:

    1)Exactly who is requiring frontline employees to be “vaccine police”?

    2) From what source do these “police” derive their authority?

  7. KM says:

    At this point, I have very little sympathy for frontline workers who have refused vaccination. They’ve been eligible for months now. Those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, alas, are in a tough situation but it’s frankly unreasonable to impose permanent restrictions on the rest of us to compensate.

    And yet that’s how life works in America. Stupid, ignorant or uncooperative people drive policy that affect millions because they can’t or won’t do the proper thing. We can’t have nice things as a nation because we have people in a position to cause problems rather than inconveniencing themselves. We cannot logically or legally demand front-liner workers must be vaxxed or masked to do their job because there’s no reason than the rest of us can’t be mandated to those same “permanent restrictions”; in other words, once you say THEY have to do it for your convenience and safety, the corollary is YOU have to do it for theirs. You are not special in the eyes of the law. If enough front-liner workers turn out to be maskholes or anti-vaxxers, the whole thing falls apart and we see the rise of a new, homegrown variant that might undo all of our work.

    Which, again, would put employees in the uncomfortable and perhaps dangerous position of verification.

    This sort of crap “policy”, along side lower pay, is why we’re hearing about retailers and restaurants sobbing nobody wants to come back to work. Why exactly are we making teenagers have to deal with maskholes and anti-vaxxers screaming at them when they already had Karens a-plenty, open carry nuts and the types of people who licked ice cream containers for clicks? Why should someone take a retail job and get shit on by the public hourly when their hourly salary barely covers the gas to get there? Why get spit on, kicked, punched, threatened or even shot by an increasingly insane public who’ve been told their freedumbs and beLIEfs are more important than your life?

    Government refuses to do its job and cries “capitalism!” to push it off on businesses…. knowing damn well Business is going to push it off to the low-level nobodies who push the carts because hey, what are they gonna do, find another source of income or better paying job? That would be socialism, damnit! Businesses are kicking the can that’s been kicked to them and forcing the decision to happen at a micro-level we’re likely to see the most amount of conflict and injury. Either pay your workers for this new duty you’ve imposed upon them or watch people start to walk it gets ugly.

    15
  8. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Nine Yankees…

    Have any of those Yankees be hospitalized?
    Recently heard/read that lately 99% of the persons being hospitalized for covid19 are unvaccinated, can anyone source that?

    3
  9. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sure. Who’s saying otherwise?

    @MarkedMan: The risk is certainly non-zero. But Walmart is following the CDC guidelines.

    @Bob@Youngstown: Business owners have a right to deny entry to people who are potentially disease vectors. The CDC says the vaccinated are safe but there’s no way to know who they are without checking their cards.

    @KM: I don’t understand the complaint. Who do you think is going to check? Somebody had to enforce the mask policy, right? If we’re going to enforce the “mask if you’re unvaccinated” rule, then someone has to check.

    1
  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: You’re missing the subtext: I’m tired of wearing a mask, I’m tired of not going to restaurants, I’m tired of watching movies at home. And the CDC has declared that the science has evolved because the new administration wants to start pandering to all the “I’m tired”s just like the last one wanted to pander to all the “we don’t need no stinking mask”s. Do what you think is wise, but for the nation, “I got it, [bleep] you” has won.

    7
  11. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t understand the complaint. Who do you think is going to check? Somebody had to enforce the mask policy, right? If we’re going to enforce the “mask if you’re unvaccinated” rule, then someone has to check.

    Yes, but not the cashiers or the cart catchers as that’s literally not their job. Low pay positions =/= jack of all trades so the boss doesn’t have to hire proper staff. They don’t do security either (or at least, they not supposed to) so the obvious answer is to hire somebody who *does* have the authority and ability to back it up aka a rent-a-cop. Placing this responsibility on someone who cannot do anything to enforce it but has to take the bodyblows and abuse is like asking teachers to clean toilets and mop floors because hey, you’re already there and not doing anything right? Lazy stores expect people to respect the shelf stocker’s authority when they won’t acknowledge the governments; even bars and clubs have bouncers to get rid of troublemakers and don’t expect the tiny waitress to do it (they’ll tell her call 911).

    @James, if you were told you now had janitorial duties on top of your regular paid position for no real reason, you’d expect compensation or would be job hunting. You want the cashier to act like security or the code enforcement crew? Pay them extra for doing something outside the scope of their job. Put cops / rent-a-cops on the door or watch folks pass on a position that’s not worth the trouble.

    6
  12. James Joyner says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: What’s your evidence that the CDC is intentionally putting the nation at risk for Joe Biden’s political benefit?

    Beyond that, we’re well past the point where adults who want a vaccine had their chance. Hell, my teenagers are vaccinated (although not “fully” for another couple of weeks) and I’m trying to get my 12-year-old scheduled.

    2
  13. James Joyner says:

    @KM: Ah. My strong guess is that most businesses simply won’t bother to check and will go on the honor system. But I doubt many who don’t currently have security guards will hire them for this.

    1
  14. Kathy says:

    It’s too bad retail stores can’t do as airlines did, and simply ban all maskholes.

    4
  15. MarkedMany says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Have any of those Yankees be hospitalized?

    As I said above, they are asymptomatic. I was challenging James’ assertion that the vaccinated are safe and pose essentially no danger to others. Whatever variant these Yankees had, it spread among them, and if they have been in close contact with unvaccinated it would likely spread to those people too.

    3
  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: As I noted yesterday when I said something similar, it’s only a belief. But I will still hold that there are precious few public servants at the top of the bureaucracy. You don’t get to be the administration’s spokesperson for anything unless you’re willing to say what the administration wants to hear.

    Do I think that the CDC spokesmodel is lying? No. She’s absolutely convinced that the science has evolved. It’s merely a coincidence that the message conforms with the whole “we’ll be able to celebrate the 4th of July together” message that Biden wants to promote. On the other hand, we have a CDC spokesperson and a professional politician saying one thing and ~700 epidemiologists saying another. Believe who you want.

    1
  17. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    But Walmart is following the CDC guidelines

    I’m not sure what CDC guidelines you are referring to? The CDC issued guidelines on what vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should do. As far as I know they did not issue any guidelines on what businesses should do.

    I’m not disagreeing with your ultimate conclusion, i.e. that we should be opening up, and that anti-vaxers are responsible for themselves. But you shouldn’t minimize that maskless businesses are dangerous to them. Infected people, vaccinated and unvaccinated, are going to be in those businesses. Most certainly tens of thousands more people will die because of their refusal to get the vaccine.

    I’m part of the leadership team that will decide policy on this for my company. We are better than 80% vaccinated. Part of me says, “If you chose not to get the jab, it’s on you.” But I know and work with these people and I don’t take lightly the real risk that they may die a horrible death because they are unable to come to grips with reality.

    6
  18. @James Joyner:

    Well Ron DeSantis says otherwise

  19. Kathy says:

    I’ve come across some bitching from libertarian persons to the effect that there seems to be no upside in getting the vaccine, if you still have to wear a mask, keep your distance, avoid crowds, and many places remain closed.

    Because, you know, sparing yourself a terrible disease and a chance at death, plus lowering your chances of spreading it to other people, are really horrible things to have to endure or something.

    I don’t think Biden has been taking their advice, but it would fit with giving people an incentive to get vaccinated. they can finally ditch the hated iron maiden masks.

    3
  20. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    Businesses could ban the mask-holes, but then they would need to add the expense of enforcing it. The advantage that the airlines have is that they have the FAA at there back who are issuing 5 figure fines to miscreants. And if you are a business traveler, how do you explain to your boss that Delta or United, won’t let you on their planes. That would be career suicide.

    2
  21. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: I wanted to edit for clarity, but now that I need it the button does not appear.

    Just to be clear, we have entered the phase of, “We accept that some portion of the unvaccinated are going to get seriously ill and/or die, but that is on them. We are not going to continue to inconvenience the rational, non-lazy crowd for their sake. We will tell them they should continue wearing masks but we won’t try to police that, even though we know they are the type of people most likely to engage in high risk behavior.”

    This was going to happen eventually. The only question is whether we should have waited another month or two, giving more people a chance to complete their vaccinations.

  22. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Beyond all that, you have to give the airline your name at booking, check-in, and boarding. At the latter, you also have to show ID. You don’t have to do the same at a retail store.

    Airlines have a simple way of detecting a banned person, retail stores don’t.

    Casinos tend to ban advantage players, mostly for card-counting at blackjack. They can have a hard time keeping banned players out, even with all the dense surveillance and security they run.

    2
  23. Tony W says:

    I’m unconcerned about the COVID-related welfare of those who are unwilling to get vaccinated at this point.

    The CDC is facing an increasing chorus of “why the hell should I get vaccinated if nothing about my life changes afterward?”, and the more time goes on, the more reasonable that sentiment gets. There will always be a waterfall moment when the recommendation has to change from x to y, and it will always be too soon for some and too late for others.

    For the time being, I will be studying the rhetoric coming from my family members and friends to identify which of them are anti-vaxxers so that I can keep them away from any children and immunocompromised people in my life, but otherwise let the idiots suffer if they want to self-select.

    Sometimes natural consequences are exactly the right remedy.

    That said, because I have grandchildren in my life who are younger than 12 and cannot be vaccinated yet, I will continue to mask up everywhere so that I reduce the chances of transmitting the disease to them. I will also avoid bringing them to public places like grocery stores and airplanes for now.

    5
  24. CSK says:

    Massachusetts will lift all of its remaining Covid-19 restrictions on May 29. This includes masking, except in healthcare facilities and on public transportation (including livery services and cabs). Those unvaccinated as of that date are asked to continue masking.

    Fifty-six point five percent of Mass. residents have received at least one shot.

    3
  25. Sleeping Dog says:

    At some point, probably early winter, there will be a spike of infections and death among the unvaccinated, then we’ll see minds change among the anti-vaxxers.

    A concern to watch for, there seems to be a new strain of the virus in Brazil that is highly infectious for children and deadly.

    4
  26. EddieInCA says:

    Sorry to repeat myself, but I feel so fortunate that I’m in an industry that is still taking it seriously. The unions, studios, networks, and production companies in Film and TV are taking it pretty damn seriously, with the possible exception of Disney productions, whic aren’t taking it as seriously as the rest of the industry.

    For our upcoming season, vacccinations will be a condition of employment. No Vax, No Job. Pretty simple.

    And even with vaccinations, we are still wearing masks and still social distancing at all times on the job. We are all still testing 3x per week. We all know the CDC guidelines, but we, as an industry, are sticking to “safety first”, even if a few crew members complain. We’ve made it through an entire season (20 episodes), since September, with only three down days and six positive cases. It worked for us. So why change now?

    Yes, the situation is better, but as the Yankees have proven, you can still pass it on.

    12
  27. Kathy says:

    I tried to police maskholes for a few months at the office. It’s really hard to do when you have no authority. Most people think any excuse is valid. So they just wield it:

    “I’ve been wearing the mask all day.
    “I’m just going to the bathroom.”
    “I can’t breathe in those things.”

    I stopped more or less around the time I began to wear KN95 masks, though I still bitch about it with those who are more mask observant.

    As yet, no one eligible at the department has refused to vaccinate. That number, though, is four people, myself included (12 days past first Pfizer dose), and including one who recovered from COVID, out of 24 or so people.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA: Just out of curiosity, would you mind sharing the series? Or is that NDA’d?

  29. steve says:

    We now have the big Public Health England study which shows vaccinated people are about 50% less likely to infect others, the Israeli study showing lower viral loads for those who have breakthrough infections and we have several animal studies showing vaccines make transmission less likely. So breakthrough infections are not that common, though they will get a lot of publicity, and you are less likely to be infectious. That means if you are vaccinated and in contact with a vaccinated person having a breakthrough your chances of being infected are pretty small and your risk of serious infection tiny.

    For the very small group of people who cannot be vaccinated I think those generally also have to be worried about flu and other problems so they end up taking precautions like they always do. If you are in the group who just can take the vaccine yet you wear a mask and distance.

    BTW, its not just retail employees who are suffering. A lot of our nurses received verbal abuse this weekend and if the rumors are correct one physical abuse (got shoved).

    Steve

    3
  30. Chip Daniels says:

    The constant harassment that retail employees endue from Kevin and Karens has been listed as one reason retail and restaurant workers are reluctant to return to work, and prefer to work at an Amazon center or as gig workers, even if for the same or less pay.

    7
  31. Pete S says:

    And there seem to be more and more people like MTG who are not only not ashamed of being rude and abusive, but proud enough of it to have themselves filmed. We had some of that in my area last year about masks and distancing. There are businesses around terrified of people coming in recording the reactions of unfortunate servers or clerks who don’t know how to deal with abuse, then expecting freebies as “compensation” for less than stellar service. These people were always around but now they post the videos. A large part of our covid reopening strategy at my company was how to avoid the antimasking idiots pulling this crap.

    3
  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    At this point, I have very little sympathy for frontline workers who have refused vaccination.

    Yeah, but if something bad happens, the decision is going to be based on labor law, not your sympathies. If a construction company is aware their employees have all stopped wearing hard helmets, when one of them gets head trauma, arguing “well they chose not to wear the helmet” isn’t going to absolve the employer of liability.

    It remains to be seen whether a COVID cluster breaking out at a Walmart will result in Walmart being held liable or not.

  33. Monala says:

    @Pete S:actor Ricky Schroeder (who bailed out Kyle Rittenhouse) filmed himself over the weekend arguing with a Costco employee who told him he still needed to wear a mask.

  34. EddieInCA says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I choose to keep a modicum of privacy, mostly for my own sanity and because my job is semi-public. But the series is on the CW, has a primarily African American cast, and is based on the true life story of a former NFL player.

    6
  35. R. Dave says:

    Right now, the two largest supermarket chains in our area, Safeway and Giant, have continued to impose mask restrictions. (Indeed, I made a quick run to Safeway yesterday afternoon and was befuddled that they were still requiring masks. And then they played the old announcement that they were doing so to comply with state guidelines which, of course, they aren’t.) If that continues, frankly, I’m likely to explore other options. Similarly, Target imposes mask restrictions and Walmart doesn’t. Guess where I’ll be shopping.

    I really don’t understand this attitude/reaction. Even if you think the science is clear that fully vaccinated people have virtually no risk of infection or transmission, (i) that clarity is a recent development and subject to various caveats, (ii) many fully vaccinated people haven’t had that status for very long and likely still have loved ones who aren’t there yet, (iii) we’re in the tail period of a pandemic that’s killed 600,000 Americans so far and is still killing more than 600/week, so it’s not exactly crazy for people, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, to need a little time before they’re comfortable being in a crowd of unmasked people again (I know it scares the sh*t out of my 80-year old father, for one), and (iv) wearing a mask for the 30-45 minutes you’re in a store is pretty trivial inconvenience.

    Given all that, I really don’t understand why you would be inclined to penalize rather than reward businesses that choose to prioritize the health and peace of mind of their employees and elderly/vulnerable customers by continuing the mask requirement for a few months longer than may, in retrospect, prove to have been strictly necessary. I would think a combination of the precautionary principle and simple courtesy/kindness toward the elderly and vulnerable would incline one in the opposite direction.

    18
  36. EddieInCA says:

    @Monala:

    Ricky Schroeder is a tool. LIke Tim Allen, Adam Carolla, Kirk Cameron, Scott Baio, and a few others, their main desire is trolling libs, not actually pushing any policy positions or specific ideology. It’s all, 100%, about pissing off liberals. Best people can do is just ignore them.

    8
  37. flat earth luddite says:

    At this point, I have very little sympathy for frontline workers.

    Fixed that for you, James,

    5
  38. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Beyond that, we’re well past the point where adults who want a vaccine had their chance.

    With all due respect, James, this is bullshit.

    There are a fair number of states that only opened up vaccination for all adults in May 1st. Vaccination is a five week process, so even those who got it the first day aren’t fully vaccinated.

    I have several half-vaxxed friends, and one immuno-compromised friend who has been vaccinated but no one knows how effective it is given his conditions.

    I don’t have a lot of friends, so this isn’t a tiny percentage.

    If you want to say “screw ‘em” then just come out and say it, but don’t play this “they’ve had plenty of chances” shit when it’s patently untrue.

    14
  39. Gustopher says:

    @R. Dave:

    Given all that, I really don’t understand why you would be inclined to penalize rather than reward businesses that choose to prioritize the health and peace of mind of their employees and elderly/vulnerable customers

    He is a Republican.

    7
  40. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Joyner:

    Business owners have a right to deny entry to people who are potentially disease vectors.

    However business owners have the “right” to not utilize that right to deny (in absence of any legal mandate). And if there is no legal mandate, the decision to deny entry is a business decision. Owners can weigh the pros and cons and come to a decision that is suitable for their business.

    I really don’t see a problem with that.

    After the mask mandate ends in my state (June 2) , if my favorite local grocer decides to not ask all patrons to wear masks, I will likely shop elsewhere – at least until I’m comfortable being in close proximity to potential transmitters.

    (My attitude is that a vaccinated person who is infected presents a substantially lower likelihood of transmission while a person who is infected and unvaccinated has maximum potential to transmit. YMMV.)

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA: Thanks. I’m fairly clueless when it comes to most commercial television, and way, way too knowledgable when it comes to stuff that streams without commercials. Especially if it falls into the “They’re a detective, but also an X” category. As in “They’re a detective, but also a Zombie”, “They’re a detective, but also a drug addicted, mentally fragile super genius”, and “They’re a detective, but also Satan.” So I appreciate the fact that there is a whole ‘nother world of entertainment out there that is not nearly so shallow as the stuff I watch.

    Best of luck with it.

    1
  42. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: I also thought all adults could have easily gotten it by now, but my epidemiologist friend straightened me out. I posted a link to a thread of hers yesterday.

    https://twitter.com/aetiology/status/1393958790458904580?s=20

    1
  43. Pylon says:

    The Venn diagram of those who refuse to wear a mask, but also don’t want to be vaccinated and rail against “vaccination passports” is probably close to a perfect circle.

    5
  44. MarkedMan says:

    My son is coming home from Canada this week. Given his age and profession (student), he had zero chance of getting a vaccine there, but will be able to get one a five minute walk from our house with a few days of arrival. It will be 5 weeks before he is in the clear (they have always given Pfizer at that location). Until then my wife and I are still being careful. We are going maskless outdoors, but masked indoors, regardless of policy. We will dine out in outdoor locations, but not indoor ones.

    Why? Because as those 9 Yankees prove, it is not true that there is virtually no risk, and through absolutely no fault of his own he couldn’t get vaccinated. We’ll be damned if he ends up in the hospital because we didn’t want to do the math.

    8
  45. flat earth luddite says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    Just a small vent on the topic (which is understandably THE hot button of the day), and a h/t to James for finding a topic which will light us all up in varying degrees.

    I’ve long suggested that anyone who takes any leadership position should be forced to work a minimum wage service industry job for a minimum of a year, and LIVE on that wage during that time. Expecting the front line cashier to have to put up with whiney “I’M TIRED” BS is exactly that… BS. Yet because the worker NEEDS that job, they have to listen to the whine, and “thanks for the bitching out.”

    I’ve had to listen to this crap from Queren/Quevin for the past 16 months. I personally know cashiers, greeters, and other minimum wagers who’ve been spit on, had things thrown at them, and physically assaulted by customers.

    My response to people bitching about masks is simple. I’m gonna wear a mask when I’m checking your purchases out at my store. If you’re in public wearing a mask, a BIG thank you for caring about the health of your customer service person. Fwk you if you don’t.

    I wore a mask for most of the FOUR FREAKING YEARS I did chemotherapy. I was in hospital several times because people who knew they had a cold or something and still came to our house KNOWING I was immunocompromised.

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  46. Monala says:

    @EddieInCA: excellent show. I really appreciate it portraying young African American men even from tough neighborhoods as caring, goal-oriented and not all gang members.

    4
  47. Monala says:

    @flat earth luddite: I agree. I recall reading about a program years ago that paired state legislators with people on public benefits for a month, so that the former could learn about the realities of the lives of the latter, and so the latter could learn about the challenges of the process of crafting and passing legislation. The goal was to enable better public policy decisions. This was about two decades ago. We need more of that.

    2
  48. Monala says:

    @EddieInCA: I will add, it sounds much like your own history from what you’ve shared in the past, in that you were a caring, goal-oriented student athlete from a rough neighborhood.

    2
  49. Monala says:

    @Teve: all this. She makes great points about vaccine availability not equaling vaccine access, about young people only recently becoming eligible, and about racial disparities in vaccine rates.

  50. Kathy says:

    We really are in one of those classic Homer Simpson situations, where the stupid drive the action.

    It’s easy to go and get vaccinated, and then to stop wearing a mask.

    It’s even easier to say you’ve been vaccinated, then stop wearing a mask.

    The question is why didn’t the Biden team foresee this development, and tried to get ahead of it?

  51. EddieInCA says:

    @Monala:

    It’s exactly why I chose the show to work on.

    That, plus I was tired of working on the road in red states for the last 12 years (although Florida was mostly purple the four years I was there. Heck I drove voters to the polls for Obama in both 2008 and 2012 in Florida.)

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  52. flat earth luddite says:

    @Monala:
    It was a nice idea, but doomed to failure because Fearful Leaders DON’T want their little bubble popped. They (mostly, there must be a few outliers) have less then zero interest in other people’s problems, because they’ve got theirs, and that’s what matters.

    40+ years ago, Washington (state, not fed) had a program where inmates could be released to attend college to acquire skills/degrees that would reduce recidivism. There was a parallel program that took people (mostly women) with children who were on welfare, and gave them two years of technical/professional education, provided assistance (including food/health care/day care for children while parent was in school), with end goal of reducing overall need for support. IIRC, state legislature cancelled both programs because of their successes. After all, we can’t have these people improving themselves, or they’ll be just like us.

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  53. flat earth luddite says:

    @Kathy:

    why didn’t the Biden team foresee this development, and tried to get ahead of it?

    I don’t know, but I suspect two reasons.
    1. Silly rabbits thought people would do that which is to their ultimate benefit.
    2. You can’t fix stupid. You really can’t fix willfully ignorant + stupid.

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  54. Gustopher says:

    @flat earth luddite: Or perhaps they were far more cynical — “if everyone thinks they are going to be exposed, they will run out and get the vaccines”

    1
  55. Just nutha says:

    @flat earth luddite: Well technically, they cancelled both programs because it’s cheaper to keep them ON welfare than get them OFF. But I’m not of a mind to nitpick about it. I’ve been surly enough for today.

    1
  56. Kathy says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    1. Silly rabbits thought people would do that which is to their ultimate benefit.

    In today’s cultural environment, I can imagine it goes like this:

    Government: Would you like this free vaccine that will keep you safe from a deadly disease?

    Generic Covidiot: What’s in it for me?

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  57. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: Honestly, this crossed my mind too. Sort of a “let’s take off the training wheels and see who pedals, and who ends up rolling into traffic,” thing.

    3
  58. Kathy says:

    Some weeks back there was some discussion about what pandemic measures might stick around after the pandemic is over. there was some hope masking might persist, or at least reappear during flu season.

    Well, we know now masking won’t make it to the end of the pandemic. I doubt it will go back in fashion during flu season (though I intend to wear a mask then, or at least at the first sneeze or cough at the office).

    The one measure that produced little or no push back is the use of hand sanitizer and hand washing in general. I wouldn’t mind if stores kept the hand sanitizer dispensers around forever. In particular restaurants should keep them. I bet complaints about “food poisoning” would go down.

    2
  59. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    You’re forgetting that most Covidiots think Covid is nothing more than a cold, and that the vaccine
    is a plot by the globalists to sterilize us or implant a Bill Gates tracking device in us.

    And you must know about the recent movement to shun those vaccinated, on the grounds that they shed the vaccine, causing pregnant women to miscarry.

  60. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha:
    True, my memory is failing rapidly. IIRC, I was still trying to re-acquaint myself with the real world after the home for wayward lads. And I understand surliness – I only briefly poked my head out of the cave to snap and snarl; I’m going back inside and munch on this tasty femur now.

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  61. CSK says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    Bon appetit.

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  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: I don’t see it as much fading memory as it is different contextual interpretation. I repeated what they said about the reason whereas your focus was on what the words meant in a linguistic or rhetorical sense (probably more rhetorical than linguistic, though, if I were going to be really honest about it).

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  63. David S. says:

    @Kathy: As someone who was carrying hand sanitizer around for personal use before the pandemic, too, I’d be happy about any increment in health awareness.

    I still hope for people masking up when they get sick. I’ve seen some people talk about “getting value out of the masks they bought,” which is a depressingly American sentiment where the health of others must be justified in dollars, but I’ll take what little I can get. Obviously, there are classes of people who won’t, but there are classes of people who may choose to. People who work in places where they’re surrounded by coworkers and friends, rather than in-person customer service, for instance, might get a lot less stigma for doing so.

    I appreciate it when people make the effort to protect others from themselves. But this is America, and we like guns, so whatever.

  64. James Joyner says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    If you’re in public wearing a mask, a BIG thank you for caring about the health of your customer service person. Fwk you if you don’t.

    But the whole point is that my not wearing a mask has zero impact on the health of the customer service person or, frankly, anyone else. It’s performative bullshit that I was willing to put up with for awhile as we got everyone who wanted to get vaxxed vaxxed. But it’s just absurd to expect it to continue indefinitely. Now that the CDC has sounded the ALL CLEAR the presumpton changes in the other direction.

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  65. James Joyner says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    I will likely shop elsewhere – at least until I’m comfortable being in close proximity to potential transmitters.

    Why not just get vaccinated?

  66. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Joyner:
    My wife and I received our second dose in February. What made you think that I had not been vaccinated?

    Our election to continue to maximize our precautions is a personal choice based on our age and health status.

    I recently asked our physician if we should lower our guard.

    “Balance the potential benefit versus the inconvenience you experience. Do you take the prescriptions I suggest for you even when they cost you money? Would you wear seatbelts even if they weren’t mandated? Do you wear a helmet to bike, even if not required? “

    1
  67. James Joyner says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: That’s fair. I’m not persuaded that “fully vaccinated plus masked” is sufficiently less risky than “fully vaccinated” to take on the additional inconvenience but it’s perfectly reasonable to make the other call.

    I find the doctor’s analogies, though, rather silly. Taking meds has immediate impact vice not taking them. A seatbelt is simply not the slightest bit inconvenient for me. I don’t really bike anymore and didn’t wear a helmet when I did, simply because nobody was wearing helmets in those days. I’m not sure I would wear a helmet biking on a trail somewhere but almost certainly would biking in the streets.

  68. Kathy says:

    @David S.:

    As someone who was carrying hand sanitizer around for personal use before the pandemic, too, I’d be happy about any increment in health awareness.

    I made a habit out of it around 2006. I had to be out of the office a lot then, and it wasn’t always easy to find a washroom. Then I found it very convenient when traveling.

    The main difference is that in normal times a liter bottle lasts me months. now it’s about two weeks.

  69. R. Dave says:

    @James Joyner: But the whole point is that my not wearing a mask has zero impact on the health of the customer service person or, frankly, anyone else. It’s performative bullshit that I was willing to put up with for awhile as we got everyone who wanted to get vaxxed vaxxed. But it’s just absurd to expect it to continue indefinitely.

    Why are you so stubbornly insisting on overstating things to justify your position, James? It’s unlike you. As has been repeatedly pointed out in this thread and the other one, (i) the risk to vaccinated people is *not* zero, (ii) not everyone who wants to be vaccinated has had the opportunity to get fully vaccinated yet, and (iii) the issue being debated is whether to retain masking requirements/norms for a few more months, not indefinitely.

    If you want to make the argument that the risk to vaccinated people is sufficiently low and the percentage of people who have had ready access to vaccines is sufficiently high that expecting people to continue masking up for a few more months is unreasonable, then make that argument. Don’t just pretend the choice is between a cost-free, all-upside alternative that just happens to align with your personal preference, on the one hand, and a bunch of “performative bullshit” on the other. Own the costs you want to impose on others.

    6
  70. Jen says:

    @R. Dave: I’ve found this puzzling as well. I don’t understand the adamant attitude of some people that MASKS MUST COME OFF NOW RIGHT NOW. Give people time to adjust. Also, it’s none of anyone’s business.

    I get that once people are vaccinated there is far less risk involved, both to themselves and others. I’ve opted to continue wearing my mask in public spaces for the following reasons:

    1. In general public spaces, no one really knows who is fully vaccinated and who is unvaccinated and can’t be bothered.
    2. Breakthrough cases are a thing, and when there are infections there is a chance of long-covid issues. (Frankly, I want to know more about the Yankees cases, because it certainly appears as though not only did people who were vaccinated contract the disease, they also appear to have spread it to one another.)
    3. The handful of people I am regularly around, including my MIL and spouse, have health conditions that put them at risk–so even though I’m vaccinated, I’m wary of their vulnerability.
    4. I’m around people who haven’t been vaccinated yet. If I have an asymptomatic case, I’d never know but I could pass it on to others. And on that note…
    5. The infection numbers in my county are still fairly high.
    6. The vaccination numbers in my county are still kind of low-ish.
    7. It just doesn’t bother me that much, and I’d rather be safe than sorry.

    5
  71. Bob@Youngstown says:
  72. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    Remember around this time last year when reopening was being discussed? Overall, the criteria for reopening was to be a drop in new infections and corresponding drops in hospitalizations and deaths, with gradual reopening over several weeks, and possible rollbacks if case numbers went up.

    This proved too complicated for most people, especially the deniers and those who hold the economy above human life (what’s the point of the economy if not to improve human life?)

    So instead of a similar approach, this time the CDC went with something simple.

    It likely won’t work, either.

    2
  73. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m not persuaded that “fully vaccinated plus masked” is sufficiently less risky than “fully vaccinated” to take on the additional inconvenience

    That is where our perspectives diverge, you see I don’t consider it all that inconvenient.

    Taking meds has immediate impact vice not taking them.

    Not always, Warfarin (Coumadin) is often prescribed to lessen the risk of (atrial) blood clots being formed for persons with atrial fibrillation episodes. The sole purpose of Shingrex is to prevent a possible shingles attack. Without going on I hope that you see the point, meds and modification of behavior are sometimes inconvenient, but wise people accept a minor inconvenience for a future benefit.

  74. James Joyner says:

    @R. Dave:

    If you want to make the argument that the risk to vaccinated people is sufficiently low and the percentage of people who have had ready access to vaccines is sufficiently high that expecting people to continue masking up for a few more months is unreasonable, then make that argument.

    The CDC has in fact made that argument for me. Aside from a handful of exceedingly high-risk cases, they say there’s no reason for me to wear a mask. Indeed, they declare, “If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.”

    So, the only reason to continue masking is because it’s impossible for others to know whether I am fully vaccinated. Which is fair and the reason I haven’t objected until now. But, absent vaccine passports—which don’t appear to be even in the works—that’s a condition that will never end.

  75. Jen says:

    Organ transplant recipients are still very vulnerable, even after having both doses.

    This is a follow-up study to an earlier one published in March in JAMA, in which the researchers reported that only 17% of the participating transplant recipients produced sufficient antibodies after just one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine regimen.

    So, important for everyone to mind their own business and not give anyone wearing a mask a hard time.

  76. R. Dave says:

    @James Joyner: The CDC has in fact made that argument for me.

    Perhaps I’m misremembering, but I recall you criticizing the CDC for being overly cautious and too focused on marginal risks in their guidance in March/April, so relying on the CDC to make the argument for you now that they’ve changed course seems like a bit of a convenient appeal to authority rather than the actual basis of your position. To be clear, I’m not implying bad faith or anything like that; I just think you may be more inclined to accept the CDC’s guidance now because it happens to align with your priors.

    That said, if your actual view is that we should just defer to the CDC and accept their guidelines, whatever they may be, as reasonable and correct, then I guess that’s a different conversation. I’m definitely inclined to “defer to the experts” in general but not to the point of ignoring glaring and recent failings by a particular set of experts on an issue like masking that doesn’t really require any great expertise to evaluate. The CDC blew what should have been an easy call on masking last spring because they were prioritizing second order effects over simply giving clear guidance on the health benefits/risks to individuals, and there are plenty of indications they’re doing the same thing now, so I’m just not inclined to view their pronouncements on this issue as the last word.

    1