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End outdoor mask mandates and other commentary

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Pandemic journal: End Outdoor Mask Mandates

It’s “time to end outdoor mask edicts,” insists Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, at The Wall Street Journal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which “still prescribes social limits while outside,” is “moving too slowly in updating its advice to comport with the scientific evidence.” And many “governors are reluctant to step out ahead of the agency,” with half of states still mandating “face coverings in all public settings.” The data show the risk of COVID transmission outside is extremely low: A study of 318 outbreaks found only one in which “the initial cases” came from outdoor contact. “Easing these rules would move more activity outdoors, which reduces viral transmission.”

Lockdown watch: We All Need Small Talk

“In our pandemic world, casual conversation has been all but eliminated” — with significant mental-health impact, Hannah Seo warns at The Walrus. Studies show, for example, that an in-person chat with your boss at work boosts morale and decreases burnout. Yet a Harvard Business Review report finds “our personal and professional circles have decreased by 16 percent” during the COVID crisis, and “as much as 30 percent” for men. And small talk with strangers and casual acquaintances brings “a greater sense of community belonging” and “adds unpredictability and variety to the everyday.” But now “talking with more than two or three people a day seems inconceivable.”

Libertarian: The Humanists’ Hypocrisy

“By canceling Richard Dawkins, the American Humanist Association has betrayed its values,” declares Reason’s Robby Soave. The group ­rescinded the scientist-author’s 1996 Humanist of the Year award after a tweet “offended some in the transgender community”: He expressed “confusion about progressives’ simultaneous embrace of transgender people and vehement rejection of transracial people,” pointing out the left “vilified” Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identified as black, but maligns anyone who denies transgender people “literally are what they identify as.” Two other Humanist of the Year winners denounced the group’s decision, saying that “reason requires that a diverse range of ideas be expressed and debated openly, including ones that some people find unfamiliar or uncomfortable.” Indeed, Soave notes, the “AHA’s own values require tolerance of difficult conversations around public-policy subjects, rather than a knee-jerk drive to punish dissenters from orthodoxies.”

Neocon: Our Maddening, ‘Lethargic’ Experts

National virus guru Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began hinting at relaxing outdoor-mask rules over the weekend — but, scoffs Commentary’s Noah Rothman, this “was preceded by several months of conventional and scientific wisdom, which long ago led informed observers” to realize outdoor-transmission rates are minuscule. Likewise with surface transmission: “Don’t worry about your grocery bag,” Fauci advised in October (in Rothman’s summary), yet the formal “guidance around surface cleaning remained unchanged until it prompted a minor backlash among opinion-makers.” No doubt, unmasking the vaccinated indoors is next, but prepare to be denounced as a “troglodyte” by the opinion elite for saying so — that is, until it comes around to the same view.

Iconoclast: Blacks Must Shed Victim Status

“To prevent the modern distortion of anti-racism from destroying our schools,” advises John McWhorter at his It Bears Mentioning blog, African Americans “will have to play a major role in the pushback,” and that means “protesting” against woke whites’ “infantilization of black people” — and rejecting the “embrace of victimhood status,” even though it’s a “way to maintain a positive self-image,” despite “doubts about one’s social value.” Embracing such a victimhood-oriented “mind-set” may be understandable, “given our history.” Yet “we must get past the idea that for the descendants of African slaves,” such “studied defeatism is a strategy for success and contentment.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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