My Facebook feed is packed with the Masked Faithful expressing their outrage at fellow U.S. residents’ incompetence. Examples:
Ran into Meijer today – only about 1/2 the people were wearing masks, and maybe 25% of them weren’t wearing them correctly. A 12% success rate won’t help, folks. … [details on how stupid everyone else is] #communityspread #covidiots PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send an emergency notification text to everybody’s cell phone. This is important.
[from a Manhattan elite] The last ten people I saw: every single one with his mask under his nose. One with his mask under his chin. Why bother?
I responded to the last one with “The dream of the technocrats encounters the real-world American.” One of her friends reasonably asked “So, how do we fix this? If people genuinely won’t follow directions about masks and distancing, etc. (and it does seem more and more likely that they either can’t or won’t), what’s the solution?”
that is a great question! I think it is probably smarter to reconfigure stuff physically. Take out half the shelves in a Target for example, so that people are naturally farther apart. With so many other retailers shutting down, there is plenty of mall space.
switch small retail to more like it was in the 18th century. Customer enters spacious front part of shop and asks for item. Shopkeeper goes into jammed back part shelves to retrieve requested item.
make it illegal to sell the middle seat on an airliner except to a family group instead of relying on people to use masks properly (which includes never touching one’s mask) during a 6-hour flight.
in states with warmer weather, build a lot of big shade structures so that more things can be done outdoors rather than indoors. Add some warming lamps in the ceiling to extend the useful season.
The current situation seems a bit like observing that there are a lot of car accidents and planning to reduce them with more intensive driver training. In fact, the solution that has been found to work all over the world is re-engineering the road system so that the humans that we have are less likely to crash. (Dividing busy roads, for example, to eliminate the possibility of head-on collisions for most of the miles that people travel.)
Readers: What do you think? Re-engineer Americans or re-engineer the American physical environment so that people are naturally more separated? Besides the above, what else could we do?
[My own Karen moment: I was in a big box store on Saturday. It was jammed and there were long lines for anything requiring human assistance now that people have discovered they can earn more on unemployment than by working. The City of Waltham requires masks for everyone, said a sign at the carefully policed front door. Once inside, I observed an interaction between a store worker roughly age 60 who was wearing a mask…. around his neck, and a shopper in his 30s, nowhere near 6′ away, who was seeking help from him. The shopper had his hand on his mask to pull it away from his nose and mouth (leaving the nose completely uncovered) to make it easier to talk.]