More liberal publications call for stopping outdoor mask mandates: 'Meaningless political theater'

Atlantic staff writer Derek Thompson called for governments to give an “off-ramp” to normalcy by getting rid of outdoor mask rules.

He likened people wearing their masks while walking into a restaurant, only to take it off to as they sat down in proximity to people to eat, to someone unbuckling their seat belt as they started driving.

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“As more and more of the population is vaccinated, governments need to give Americans an off-ramp to the post-pandemic world,” he wrote. “Ending outdoor mask mandates—or at the very least telling people when they can expect outdoor mask mandates to lift—is a good place to start, for a few reasons.”

Studies have repeatedly shown that outdoor transmission of the virus is exceedingly rare, with the only examples being when people are talking loudly in close quarters or a large crowd for a significant length of time.

Thompson noted that axing outdoor mask rules would also lead more people to wear them indoors, where transmission is most likely to occur.

“Mandating outdoor masks and closing public areas makes a show of ‘taking the virus seriously’ while doing nothing to reduce indoor spread, in a way that often hurts the less fortunate,” he wrote.

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The New Republic’s Natalie Shure mocked Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, R., for instituting an outdoor mask mandate in November in response to a surge in cases, and said its “ongoing ubiquity is meaningless political theater.” She acknowledged their use in northeastern, blue cities had persisted “as a strong social norm.”

Like Thompson, Shure cited research that’s demonstrated outdoor transmission, particularly when people are simply walking by one another on the street, is practically nonexistent.

“The point of mask-wearing is to reduce infection, and there is simply no reason to believe that wearing a mask while walking to the grocery store accomplishes this, whether or not someone might pass you on the way,” she wrote.

The stories come amid a recent trend of left-leaning media hitting back at what was long conventional liberal coverage.

Slate also called on Saturday for a cessation of outdoor mask mandates, and HBO host Bill Maher decried liberal media coverage as “panic porn,” citing polls showing Democrats dramatically overestimated how likely the virus led to hospitalizations.

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The Biden administration has repeatedly pushed for mask mandates across the country. President Biden slammed Texas and Mississippi for lifting their rules in March, saying it was “Neanderthal thinking,” but the states have seen a decline in cases and hospitalizations since then.

An article in the New York Times Monday didn’t address mask mandates but did discuss ongoing “irrational” public fears about coronavirus, in spite of the successful vaccines that have led to dramatically lower cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Some media outlets trumpeted that nearly 6,000 Americans who had been vaccinated had still gotten coronavirus, for instance. While the number sounds large, it showed the chances of getting the virus after getting vaccinated were a scant 1 in 11,000.

“Victory over Covid will not involve its elimination,” Times reporter David Leonhardt wrote. “Victory will instead mean turning it into the sort of danger that plane crashes or shark attacks present — too small to be worth reordering our lives.”

The reports come amid public frustrations with continued insistence from officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci on continuing to wear masks, avoid travel, and socially distance, even after getting the remarkably effective vaccines.

“We will never get to zero risk,” Dr. Nicole Saphier told Fox News in February. “Seat belts reduce the risk in motor vehicle accidents by 45 percent, but still over a million people die in motor vehicle crashes because we still go out, we still are driving cars … The further along we go and getting more immunity, the stronger our messaging needs to be that it’s time to start resuming normal life.”

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