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The ongoing problem of ‘pandemic junkies’

Nathanael Blake writes for the Federalist about people who can’t escape the trappings of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Even though vaccines essentially mean victory over COVID-19, some pandemic junkies just can’t quit the lockdown lifestyle. Exhibit A: Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband were recently photographed exchanged a masked-up goodbye kiss, outdoors, and despite both of them being fully vaccinated. Similar examples abound, such as President Biden masking up for a videoconference.

The justifications for such behavior — “they were setting an example” or “other people were around” — frankly, only make matters worse. These displays are nonsensical as public health measures, and insofar as these excesses encourage the skeptical to believe that it is all a farce, instead of encouraging responsible mask-wearing, they discourage it.

These displays, which are far beyond any science-based recommendations, also weaken the essential public health messages encouraging people to get vaccinated. After all, if vaccines don’t allow a return to normal life — including kisses with actual physical contact — what is the point of them?

In truth, Operation Warp Speed has been a scientific triumph. At this point, almost any American adult who wants to be vaccinated can be, and the vaccines are proving exceptionally effective. American coronavirus cases and deaths are dropping, and, unlike previous dips, this time they will hopefully stay down.Yet some people still seem unwilling to accept we’re winning the fight against the virus.

For example, the Transportation and Security Administration recently extended its mask mandate for travel on planes, trains, and busses — not just for another month or two, but through mid-September. The Biden administration is still hemming and hawing over reopening schools, in large part due to pressure from teachers unions.

As this suggests, some of the resistance to returning to normalcy is driven by those who have benefitted from the abnormality of the last year. … For some people, overreaction to the virus has become an identity.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...