COVID is over. Everyone who is vulnerable to the virus has had the ability to protect themselves for at least six months. Anyone who wants to get a vaccination can get one, and everyone who is still worried can access an N95 mask. There is nothing more the government can do to protect anyone. So there are two ways for people to get back to normal: Either wait until you get permission, or just live your life.
If you are waiting to get permission, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. There’s about to be a COVID infection wave hitting the Northeast. By all available data, COVID rates increase where larger crowds gather indoors. In the summer, the areas around the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s incredibly hot and humid, had a spike of cases. While the media focused on Florida and Houston, New Orleans had an increase as well. The only difference is that Florida and Texas have Republican governors and Louisiana is run by a Democrat.
So when it gets cold up north, and people spend more time indoors, cases will inevitably rise. When cases rise, more restrictions will be placed. Governor Kathy Hochul has already shown that she will ignore science in favor of overreaching government policy when she forced children as young as 2 to be masked in schools. Her policies regarding COVID are going to be the focus of her 2022 gubernatorial run. She has every incentive to place more restrictions on New Yorkers and no incentive to allow people to live their lives.
Same is true for Eric Adams. Assuming he wins the mayoral election (unless New Yorkers find the common sense they lost decades ago and elect Curtis Sliwa), he will want to show that he can control the virus when it hits the city this winter. More restrictions will be placed anywhere under his control, and it is likely that businesses will be shut down again.
But rising cases are irrelevant. It is as meaningless a statistic as batting average is in baseball. Batting average doesn’t take the type of hit into account; singles and home runs are exactly the same. The same is true for case count. A mild cough is treated the same as a month in the hospital.
With the vaccine, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID are becoming less and less statistically likely. No one who is vaccinated should be worried any more than they were worried about the flu prior to 2020. If you have comorbidities, you are free to take precautions, but society can be open. If you’re unvaccinated, you’re likely not worried, and you accept the consequences of your decisions.
So if you are waiting for the powers that be to give you permission to take off your mask or get together with family, you shouldn’t hold your breath. They are looking at the wrong data. They are talking to the wrong “experts.” They are pressured by the wrong media. There is far less political downside for them to say “no” than there is to say “yes.”
Once everyone accepts that they will never give permission to go back to a pre-COVID life, there are a lot of decisions to make, both personally and institutionally. Personally, take off the masks. Don’t mask yourself or your children - not in stores, trains, anywhere. Institutionally, schools and shuls should tell their students and attendees that masks are optional, regardless of vaccination status or age. Back to normal means back to normal.
Consequences can arise with these actions. Stores can refuse service. Train conductors may try to issue fines. The state may threaten shuls and schools with harsh action. But this is a fight that must be fought. It’s not “just a mask,” even if there are those that claim it is. This has been going on for far too long, and it’s not going away by itself. Action must be taken by everyone. This is happening around the country, from employees of Southwest Airlines taking a “sickout” to nurses, doctors, cops, and others who are quitting en masse because they refuse to be vaccinated.
We must show the same courage others are showing. The headline is a lie; there aren’t two ways this pandemic can end. There’s only one: When the populace decides that enough is enough, and the new normal must come to an end. The other way - for someone in the government to declare it over - is not going to happen.
Moshe Hill is a political columnist and Senior Fellow at Amariah, an America First Zionist organization. Moshe has a weekly column in the Queens Jewish Link, and has been published in Daily Wire, CNS News, and other outlets. You can follow Moshe on his blog www.aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, and twitter.com/HillWithView.