By Glenn H. Reynolds | New York Post
COVID is over. Oh, not with Anthony Fauci. Not with the media. Not with the sour-faced Karens who have enjoyed the sense of meaning — and power — it’s given them. But with normal people, especially outside the big urban areas, it’s over.
The Atlantic scandalized its readers by reporting that
this week. In an article titled “Where I Live, No One Cares About COVID,”
Matthew Walther wrote: “No one cares. Literally speaking, I know that isn’t
true, because if it were, the articles wouldn’t be commissioned. But outside
the world inhabited by the professional and managerial classes in a handful of
major metropolitan areas, many, if not most, Americans are leading their lives
as if COVID is over, and they have been for a long while.”
And with good reason. I confess that in the early days, I
was a COVID hawk. With China reporting a 4 to 5 percent mortality rate, there
seemed reason. (In fact, I should have reflected more on the untrustworthiness
of information from China, especially after the experience of the Diamond
Princess cruise ship suggested that COVID was a lot less scary than we were
But science, and rationality in general, is about
changing your opinions when you learn new facts. And what we’ve learned is that
COVID is somewhat worse than the flu but not nearly bad enough to justify the
enormous, expensive and disruptive changes we’ve endured.
In fact, the damages wrought by lockdowns and social
isolation — medical, in terms of reduced exercise, missed medical screenings
and increased drug and alcohol consumption, as well as psychological, in
loneliness and anxiety — may have been worse than those wrought by COVID
Also, most of the nostrums offered by the experts and
Karens are nonsensical and don’t work. Masks outdoors, where COVID doesn’t
really spread anyway? Plexiglas screens everywhere? Shut-down public water
fountains and a wide variety of service changes in hotels, restaurants and
airplanes that are attributed to COVID but really about saving money?
People have seen through this, and they’re over it. (And
not just in the United States — a friend in London reports that everyone there
is cheerfully going unmasked, crowding into pubs and generally ignoring
whatever rules remain nominally in force.)
And now the media are trying to rev up fear about the
Omicron variant (so-called because naming it the Xi variant would have upset
the Chinese) but without much luck. From what we know, the Omicron variant
isn’t nearly as lethal. The typical symptoms, mild weakness and a bit of muscle
pain, seem rather like those from the vaccines. As it spreads rapidly, it will
leave a huge cohort of people with natural immunity or, if they’ve been
vaccinated, an enhanced immunity.
Meanwhile, the powers that be have revealed themselves to
be dishonest and inept. Fauci lied about masks at the beginning. Andrew Cuomo
sent COVID patients into nursing homes (it made money for his contributors),
which caused thousands of elderly people to die. Scarcely a day goes by without
some bigshot — California Gov. Gavin Newsom, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Anthony Fauci himself — being found breaking his
or her own rules on masking, social distancing, etc.
School kids are forced to eat their lunches outdoors and
wear masks while adults gather in bars, restaurants and sporting events. The
entire COVID apparatus is collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity.
And most people by now have had COVID or know many people
who have. It’s not smallpox, it’s not Ebola; in many people it’s not as bad as
the flu. In 40 percent of cases, a study recently published in JAMA Network
Open found, it’s entirely asymptomatic.
People have noticed and rebelled. And authorities are
cracking. Gov. Kathy Hochul just backed down after her effort to impose a
statewide mask mandate drew overwhelming opposition. Businesses said they
wouldn’t cooperate. Local officials said they wouldn’t enforce the rule. Hochul
caved, saying she wouldn’t force counties to go along. Righty pundit Matt
Margolis called it a “spectacular failure,” and it was.
Amtrak, facing broad resistance from its workers,
suspended its vaccine mandate for employees. And Colorado’s Democratic Gov.
Jared Polis said no to a mask mandate, declaring, “The emergency is over.”
It is. And now that it’s over, we need to claw back all
the power seized by various institutions in the name of emergency. And when
that’s done, we need a searching inquiry into how the power was exercised — an
inquiry with consequences.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.