“Willed Helplessness Is the American Condition” (The Atlantic, August 4, 2022, by Meghan O’Rourke, the editor of The Yale Review):
If a pandemic is a lens onto how we understand our moral responsibility to the community, this moment of risk discourse is revealing that we don’t care about one another very much. … On the day last spring that a federal judge ruled against the CDC’s mask mandates on public transportation, I got tangled up trying to adjust my son’s mask before entering his kindergarten, the chill air biting my fingers.
Deplorable behavior is everywhere, even in states that are free of Deplorables:
In the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, we as a nation have largely resumed life as normal: We’ve dropped mask mandates, made information about case rates harder to access, adopted the sunny view that Omicron is “mild.”
I have noticed this as well. Facebookers who spent more than two years demanding that others wear masks, hate Trump, accept the Sacrament of Fauci (4 shots minimum!), etc. now post pictures of themselves, unmasked, in jammed airliners on the way to domestic and international vacations (i.e., purely optional trips). Why didn’t they stay home or take a car-based trip with contactless hotel check-in and drive-through food if they consider stopping the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to be a moral duty?
This is not the Yale-based laptopper’s first encounter with a debilitating long-term mysterious ailment:
I had a condition that closely resembled long COVID for more than a decade, a result of untreated Lyme disease. It manifested as brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, and the kind of dysfunction of the nervous system that COVID-19 can trigger.
How many of us are the walking wounded?
In May, the CDC released a study suggesting that nearly one in five people ages 18 to 64 who contract COVID-19 may develop long COVID. That suggests that currently 7.5 percent of American adults are living with ongoing effects of COVID. A March report from the Government Accountability Office found that up to 23 million Americans had developed long COVID.
(Maybe the answer is to move to Florida? All of our neighbors, when asked, report having had COVID-19. None complain of any symptoms that lasted beyond 10 days.)
What is the solution to a terrible situation that has developed in states that lived under mask and vaccine orders for more than two years? More mask orders and vaccine shots:
At the very least, we could implement mask mandates when cases rise and prioritize safer air in public buildings and public transportation. (Personally, I think we should all be wearing masks on public transportation until we’ve got a firmer grasp on long COVID.) We could put more resources into booster campaigns and help people stay informed about caseloads so that they can make informed decisions about risk. As a nation, we ought to acknowledge the scope of long COVID and grapple with the social consequences of a mass-disabling or mass-deterioration event, as Ben Mazer has called it in this magazine.
Let’s have a look at the author’s Twitter feed. She seems to have traveled to France recently. The best way to avoid COVID-19 is to be one of 350 people crammed into an Airbus fuselage?
Back in June, the author noted that the best way to avoid COVID-19 is to be the subject of abortion care at 24 weeks:
(Why is it “women” who receive abortion care?)
Mx. O’Rourke demonstrates a keen grasp of Constitutional law:
(The commenters do not point out that there is nothing in the Constitution corresponding to the Second Amendment that has been such a bitter disappointment to those who follow Science and, therefore, gun ownership and the provision of abortion care to pregnant people are not comparably situated in the split between federal and state law.)