Please, New Yorkers, just let it slide! We’re masking ourselves into fits

Please, New Yorkers, just let it slide! We’re masking ourselves into fits
I live on the Upper West Side. I am a former Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner, run a not-for-profit public-health policy institute and am a visiting professor at the University of Paris Medical School. Despite my bona fides, I can’t get my neighbors or dog-park acquaintances to relax and unmask themselves.

Welcome to my world, where wearing a surgical mask has replaced wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt as a social-justice signal in post-pandemic America.

My ZIP code is deep blue. “Science is back!” we rejoiced when President Biden was elected. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be true when the science doesn’t match what many of my friends and neighbors want to believe. 

Despite very clear guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams, many of my neighbors want to keep their masks on (which is certainly their privilege), but they don’t want me to take mine off either. And they’re aggressive about it. Withering stares and cutting comments. The lack of respect and embrace of — what else can I call it? — “fake news” is disheartening.

My wife and I are triple-vaccinated and self-test regularly. We live in a low-infection/high-injection zone. Very green by the CDC’s new standard. And yet many in my hood remain wedded to the way things were, as though removing one’s mask is somehow an acknowledgment of victory for anti-science, anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. Maybe it’s a new form of PTSD. It is certainly Creeping Chicken Little-ism. 

 
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