ADAMCZYK: Don't throw those masks away just yet

Ed Adamczyk, Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
·4 min read

May 5—The terms they come with, these days. "Manageable threat" is my new favorite.

It's the way we will regard the virus causing the pandemic, months or years down the road, as that other breakthrough, "herd immunity," is looking less and less likely to occur. As more people continue to wear masks and get immunizations, others wear their mouths openly and proudly in public spaces and come with any number of reasons not to obtain the vaccine.

The result, some public health specialists say, will be no departure of the virus, but one of those things that will hang around, albeit with reduced numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, for years.

Well, I suppose it's a citizen's prerogative to choose what he or she takes seriously or not.

This comes as the great State of New York — motto "Excelsior," Latin for "Ever Upward" and an apparent reference to its tax structure — is organizing some sort of Grand Re-Opening for New York City, starting in about two weeks.

There are cities in China where residents regularly wear masks to defend themselves from air pollution. It's no big deal if you walk down a street or into a building wearing a mask. I suspect it'll be like that here, even after some imaginary government-mandated all-clear signal is sounded. Come back in a few years, and kids will play, lovers will kiss under the stars, more and more people will enjoy concerts and night baseball, and certain of them will still wear masks, and that will include me, of the pre-existing condition and the slow gait of old age.

And I won't be the only one, and incidentally, I am not really that old.

An advantage of being in the cohort which took the interruptions of life offered by the reaction to the pandemic and used them to slow life down — intentionally, resignedly — is that you have a front-row seat to observe how everyone else has handled it thus far.

Have your friends, co-workers and loved ones handled it well, or badly? Are they maintaining some semblance of a stiff upper lip about the whole thing, keeping calm and carrying on, or are they basket cases? Some businesses have discovered adjustments so valuable they'll retain them when it's over; other simply went out of business. But here's the thing: this will never be over.

If there is no herd immunity, it means that the COVID-19 particles will become a part of life, an evil put on life's back burner by wariness, lack of exposure to hazardous situations and maybe a regular booster shot of vaccine.

Exactly the way it is today, but without the urgency.

If a person chose chooses not to obtain the vaccine, there are no doubt reasons, possibly valid ones. Distrust of government is a prominent example — and I personally have had episodes of that attitude in my life — although I have heard of no returns by the anti-government crowd of economic stimulus checks. Those who advocate for what others call "The Big Lie" are perhaps unaware that the former president in which they believe is a vaccine recipient. As I recall, he got his early, soon after that talk about bleach injections and light treatments.

A column of this nature offers an opportunity to spell out the facts as the writer sees 'em, and then lead the reader to a conclusion of some sort. With this topic I am more Cassandra than Pollyanna: our freedom to choose our individual fate impacts the collective good. It's the sort of thing the solons of the U.S. Supreme Court regularly bat around.

Lining up to receive the vaccination, twice, was to me nearly a festive occasion. All customers were about my age, there was general chatter in line and no worry about the time it took, and conversation about anything but COVID-19 was heard in the cool-down zone. When members of the anti-vax community get together, I have no idea what the topics are.

When religious communities get together, most church leaders either offer encouragement to get the vaccine, or stay silent on the matter. Then I read this, from the website of KPBS-TV in San Diego:

"KPBS identified one evangelical megachurch, Awaken Church, that is taking a clear anti-vaccine stance. It is the same church that's been the source of significant outbreaks and that county officials have called out for its flagrant disregard of the COVID-19 health order."

Get the shot. Don't get the shot. I sometimes occurs to me that this country thrives on the divisions it arranges for itself.

Contact Ed Adamczyk at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.