Pandemic Resistance

I keep reading in the press about people who refuse to wear masks and be vaccinated against covid-19 because they feel mask and vaccination mandates are a violation of their freedom of choice. If only their own lives were at stake, I would agree with them. But their refusal endangers others. None of us have that right.

The purpose of mask and vaccination mandates is to maintain public health. The mandates are in the same category as road safety laws and firearm restrictions. Without the mandates, pandemic deaths would skyrocket. Their purpose, in other words, is not to limit personal freedom but to save lives.

The pandemic has become politicized. Despite what the Washington Post describes as “the worst public health disaster in a century,” millions of Republicans see downplaying covid-19 as core to their identity as conservatives. Their skepticism of vaccines means that the virus is killing many more Republicans than Democrats.

This is irrationality writ large. I lay much of the blame for Republican death rates at the feet of Donald Trump. He consistently downplayed the danger of the coronavirus, disbanded the White House pandemic response team, repeatedly assured the nation that covid-19 posed no threat. In effect, he made ignoring the virus and refusing masks and vaccinations a requirement of fealty from his followers. In the process thousands died.

Trump may have no conscience. But the rest of us do. Let’s put aside loyalty to a failed leader and do what’s right for the good of others. Mask up and get vaccinated!

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