The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Deepened the Divide Between Two Different Americas

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In the past several days, America has seen several amplified warnings about COVID-19. President Joe Biden has asked governors and local leaders to reinstitute mask mandates and to pause their current reopening plans. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said she has a “feeling of impending doom” about the COVID-19 case trajectory and said she went off-script to tell Americans to stay the course on restrictions. You can decide if her off-script moment was read off the teleprompter and make your assessment:

And, of course, no round of COVID-19 panic porn would be complete without Dr. Anthony Fauci making the rounds. Now he is suggesting children should not play together outside without masks. A strange assertion since Dr. Fauci and President Biden have assured the public that young children rarely get sick and are not primary vectors of disease transmission to adults. Then, perhaps the worst news to hit, was that the Biden administration is mulling vaccine passport guidelines.

All of this rings very hollow to anyone living in an open state. In Georgia, where Governor Brian Kemp took the unpopular step of reopening our economy at the end of May, the parks are open. Riding on the bike paths that transverse them on a day that is 75 degrees and sunny, I saw kids on swings, playing together while their mothers chatted on the bench. There were no masks.

I see older residents out for a walk, getting exercise and sunshine, chatting together, and smiling. You can see their smiles because they are mask-free. For my part, I have never worn a mask outdoors and am certainly not going to do so on a 15-mile bike ride to beat my own personal best. I will admit that time is nothing to brag about, but at least it is a goal to keep me off the COVID-19 risk list for obesity.

Driving home, I pass the local high school and elementary school. There are packed school driveways with parents waiting to pick up their children, and traffic around town has been back to pre-lockdown levels since late last summer. Residents fully expect local First Friday activities to resume since they occurred last year, and the local brewery has already had an event. In the open-air facility and the large, sunny deck adjacent to it, no covered faces were visible as friends gathered and people played a host of games outdoors.

This evening, I played the weekly bingo game at my local sports bar with a few girlfriends. Those gathered were aged 22 to 75. I only saw one person wearing a mask on the way in, and he removed it as soon as he sat down with his group. It was a young man, I would guess he was around 30, who held the front door open for me and yelled at no one for not wearing a mask. There are very few Karens and no arguments I have seen about someone’s personal decision to wear a mask or not in my neck of the woods.

When I look at rising case numbers, they are not in my state or any other open state. In Georgia, the vast majority of positive tests have occurred between ages 10 and 69, with the vast majority between 18 and 29. On March 29, we had 825 positive tests in a population of over 10 million. Our inpatient bed usage is at 80%, and fewer than 30% of our ventilators are in use.

According to other states monitoring, I can only find increasing cases in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, which have all had long-term lockdowns and still have mask mandates. Georgia, Florida, Utah, and South Dakota have been open for the longest and show no upward trend. Even the Neanderthal states of Texas and Mississippi, which lifted their mask mandates a few weeks ago, show no significant uptick. If Texas does, you can blame the Biden administration’s lax border policies and not testing foreign nationals when they cross illegally.

In short, the fact that cases are rising in states with long-term dystopian lockdowns should surprise no one who understands infectious disease, including Dr. Fauci and Dr. Walensky. They should be lauding open states where the virus has burned through the least vulnerable while protecting the most vulnerable. Every single one of us with natural immunity acts as a brake on the transmission of COVID-19.

These states are also not going to tolerate vaccine passports, additional mandates, or fall prey to Dr. Walensky going “off- script.” We have been back to 95% normal for months at this point, and the COVID-19 panic porn just doesn’t resonate. Thanks to federalism, we are living in America in open states and doing something else in lockdown states. Those of us in America feel no obligation to relinquish our freedoms because our experience outweighs the panic porn.

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