Reviews | How will Blue America live with Covid?

By now, it is generally understood that we are not going to see the end of Covid on a simple timeline and instead should expect a world ...


By now, it is generally understood that we are not going to see the end of Covid on a simple timeline and instead should expect a world where disease becomes something we live with – like an endemic disease. transformed by the combination of vaccinations, boosters and immunity against a previous infection into a tolerable risk.

The conversation on how best to encourage vaccination at the Margins is all about how we can hurry up and finally get to this point. But for areas with high vaccination rates, in particular, a critical question is what happens when we get there. What does the ongoing adaptation to the endemic Covid look like in places – especially the Blue States, and especially their more liberal enclaves – that have relied on strict measures whenever cases multiply?

I wrote about this last February, before the rise of the Delta variant in the United States, when it seemed reasonable to wait for the Covid emergency to give way to an attempt at normality by the summer . And even with Delta, some of the normalization I was hoping for has happened. Fortunately, most of the Blue State schools are back in person this fall. For the most part, the summer wave hasn’t closed churches or beaches or canceled baseball games. In New Haven, Connecticut, where I live, the zealous masking returned after a brief early summer romance – but while driving in New England for the past few months, I’ve found wearing the mask was rather laid back and willful outside the haunts of the urban upper middle class.

This gradual easing suggests an optimistic path towards the normalization of the blue state, in which any winter wave turns out to be relatively mild, vaccinations are allowed for the youngest and by spring, later, all mask requirements are lifted, allowing children to see the faces of their classmates again and allowing adults to go to museums or take the train or shop without having to breathe for hours in the fabric. The end point of this path is a balance with more voluntary masking each winter (against the flu as well as Covid), perhaps a few mask requirements for holiday season travelers, but none of the permanent emergency measures that libertarians fear from the start.

But I can also imagine other scenarios. Pandemic-era virologist and prolific tweeter Trevor Bedford last week speculated that the United States could see 40,000 to 100,000 deaths per year from endemic Covid. This range is well below the pandemic death rate, but it is moderately higher than estimates for seasonal influenza and likely high enough that the number of cases and deaths will make headlines in 2022 and beyond.

As we saw after September 11, certain forms of security theater, once established, become extremely difficult to dislodge while there is still all questionable threat. So, as long as Covid remains in the news, it’s not hard to imagine that masking requirements for planes and trains will persist far into the future, just as we’re still trying to outsmart Al Qaeda by removing our shoes for airport security lines. It’s also possible to imagine a future in which the bizarre emerging standard of “masks for help but not for VIPs” – visible everywhere from the Met Gala to political fundraisers to posh hotels – would become one. expected characteristic of life among the blues. upper class of the state (as well as a powerful symbol for his critics).

Then there are the elementary schools of the Blue State, where some of the constituencies that support mask requirements may not be relaxed even after vaccines are available for the youngest. At this point, according to polls and personal experience, there will still be a lot of vaccine hesitation among even liberal parents – and you can imagine a coalition of parents and teachers unions more fearful of Covid demanding masking requirements. until a school hits a threshold vaccination that is perpetually out of reach.

Already on some college campuses, you can see a version of this seemingly permanent anomaly. Even with the vaccine requirements for faculty and students, some schools have tried to overlay miniature health surveillance states, with constant testing and stringent masking rules (at the University of Southern California, The Wall Street Journal reported recently, “students have to leave classrooms to take a sip of water, rather than just sliding their masks down. Students and their parents managed to push back some of the scariest metrics – a wearable “bio button” to monitor heart rate and other health metrics at one college, a tracker app in another. But the spirit of biomonitoring fits neatly into the larger trend toward a sort of supervisory progressivism in campus life, with the attempt at bureaucratic regulation of speech and sex, technological surveillance of movement and speech. communication on campus. And if the Covid is endemic, if the risk of an epidemic persists indefinitely, it is not obvious that these biopolitical experiments will automatically disappear.

Especially since the culture of deep blue America is caught in the same toxic feedback loops of polarization as deep red America. While some forms of Republican recklessness about Covid are forged in the fires of cultural resentment, in which you reject Faucian micromanagement by giving up masks and refusing the vaccine, some forms of liberal over-regulation seem to be forged out of fear of red contagion American – in which we come from have hide our children indefinitely, even if many other developed countries do not, because we have to set an example of seriousness to shame all these anti-masks of the Red State.

Endemic Covid ensures that this dynamic will never simply go away. The red-blue vaccination gap is not the only vaccination gap that matters, but it is very real. Mississippi will likely always have lower vaccination rates than Connecticut, and it’s possible to imagine an endemic future where there are more cases of Covid most summers in the Republican Voting Air Conditioning Belt than there are. ‘s in New England in the winter.

So deep blue America will have to decide, in a post-pandemic but not post-Covid world, whether it wants to become the foremost security caricature that Red America has made of it – or whether it can be. install instead masking a little more each December and January, a reasonable adaptation to the coronavirus experience, while leaving behind the age of emergency.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Reviews | How will Blue America live with Covid?
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