Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do, you apologize for the truth. – Benjamin Disrael

Tag: covid

vaccine passport

Vaccine-passport debate shows middle-ground thinking is dead.

Vaccine passport

Orginally published by the Orlando Sentinel – Guest columnist

My daughter recently attended a Harry Styles concert at the Amway Center in Orlando. As required by the venue she showed her vaccine passport (or a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior).

Now, the Amway Center and other establishments in Florida, are under investigation for violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’s ban on vaccine passports.

When will it end? The politicization of everything vs. decisions based on critical thinking and common sense?

Norwegian Cruise Lines defied DeSantis’s vaccine passport ban. Of course they did. Cruise ships are giant moving superspreaders.

So why is our hands-off-business governor fighting this no-brainer?

Politics. And some voters on all sides are following suit.

Coming down on an issue solely in opposition to the other party. If they’re for it, I’m against it. But are they really against the issue across every angle?

Never mind nuance. Never mind science and common sense. That uncomfortable middle ground that makes our head hurt.

God help you if you ponder the practicality of mask mandates and vaccine passports in all situations. Party treason.

And when the vaccine was first released if you had a legitimate concern (vs. a ridiculous conspiracy theory) you were a selfish moron.

Where’s the nuanced thinking in statements like, “Wear masks even if you’re vaccinated!” or “Vaccine passports are like living under the Gestapo!”

On vaccine passports I’m not totally against or in favor. In other words, it depends.

I support (temporarily) requiring proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID test) at large crowd and travel venues. I support a vaccine mandate in schools, for frontline workers and in health-care settings. Lots of people, close together, spread lots of germs. That’s not political. That’s science.

But I’m against requiring them at every business, e.g. every retailer and restaurant. Common sense knows this isn’t practical. And it’s invasive. I say that and I’m a Democrat.

I support businesses encouraging but not requiring the vaccine as a contingency for employment (or a negative COVID test).

I personally have no issue showing my vax card (I have yet to be asked). It’s not like I’m revealing I had an STD. But if I had to show my card everywhere from now until who knows, it would get old. Of course I’d pull it out without pitching a fit. It’s how I feel about masks.

I hate them. Yes, we all do. But I hate masks a lot. Except I know they help stop the spread so prevaccine I politely complied.

Okay, you got me. Masks, like vaccines, aren’t 100%.

But when we scream “Masks don’t work!” we’ve willingly stopped using common sense, never mind respect for established science.

Masks do workThey help.

The word help doesn’t mean prevent. It means to assist. Vaccines assist in stopping the spread.

I’m concerned we’ve lost our will to even consider the nuance behind issues. Shades-of-gray thinking doesn’t fit into a tidy party narrative of Us vs. Them. And our cognitive dissonance is astronomical.

If a business still requires a mask I politely wear it, otherwise I forgo because I’m vaccinated. Uber still requires masks. So last weekend, I privately grumbled to my husband, put on my mask, got in the car, and kept my mouth shut about it to the driver.

I keep strengthening my immune system with a supplement regime I’ve done for years. And once the stay-at-home order was lifted in Florida in May 2020, my husband and I went out — a lot. I tested and quarantined before I visited my elderly stepmom, reminding her that a false negative was a real possibility.

I’ve tested three times including one antibody test. All negative.

Some people might call me selfish for going out so often before I was vaccinated. I’d ask them to consider what I’ve been doing to strengthen my immune system.

Either it worked or I’m lucky. I got sick plenty before I started on this regime years ago. Now I don’t. Or at least not for long.

We owe it to each other to care about the collective. We also have the right to take individual calculated risks. My husband and I are one of those messy middle-of-the-road people during the pandemic. We don’t fit one box or the other.

At this point during COVID-19 we might consider mandates in context of where and when they make sense.

We teach our kids to be good citizens and critical thinkers, shouldn’t adults do the same?

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Mask shaming

Masks work. Shaming doesn’t.

Surprise, surprise, wearing a mask has turned political.

It was only a matter of time when masks became a symbol of either forced conformity or deference to science.

My sense is that most people favor wearing masks. Pro maskers are posting charts and personal pleas to please cover-up.

While a vocal minority are upset that their personal freedoms are under attack. They’re also worried that if the government makes masks mandatory, the assault on freedom won’t stop there (e.g. forced vaccines).

But masks work. They’re not foolproof but they help.

This review of 172 studies across 16 countries and 6 countries is pretty convincing.

These data also suggest that wearing face masks protects people (both health-care workers and the general public) against infection by these coronaviruses.

Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID -19: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Believe me, I don’t want to wear one.

Does anyone? They’re hot, mildly suffocating and they hide my summer pink lipstick.

They also hide when I smile at a random stranger or the hardworking sales clerk across the aisle. The latter just happened to me yesterday.

I smiled at this clerk then thought, well that’s stupid. So I said “hi” instead. We’re an expressionless society right now except for the glimmer of empathy in our eyes as we pass a fellow masker.

But I wear a mask anyway. And not because I’m scared.

I haven’t been scared of contracting COVID or getting seriously ill since day one. No I don’t think I’m blessed with extraordinary Godly protection or have superpowers.

I’m healthy and under 65.

And my husband and daughter are healthy and under 65. Also we’re fanatics about boosting our immune system. Especially now. So if any one of us caught COVID while I’m reasonably sure it wouldn’t be a picnic, it probably wouldn’t be serious.

So wearing a mask isn’t about me or my immediate family.

It’s about others.

It’s about getting this superbly contagious virus under control for the sake of those at risk and our potentially overwhelmed healthcare system.

That’s it. That’s the reason to wear a mask.

Even if you don’t believe the science. The mere act of wearing one tells your fellow man, I got you.

But no way am I going to shame you on social media or give you the stink eye if your face isn’t covered. As one of my good friends sums it up, “you do you.”

I mean I strolled an (almost empty) mall the other day without a mask. But you won’t catch me in the essential or crowded stores bare-faced.

So instead of citizen shaming I’d like to see our local, state and national officials regularly encourage citizens and businesses to cover up.

Flood the public with service announcements until more people change their behavior (Temporarily. I mean, I’ll never be on board with becoming a mask-wearing society. Nor will I give up hugging and handshakes).

Shaming friends, family, neighbors or strangers on social media and in-person won’t work. If anything people will double down and 100% refuse. It’s what we humans do.

We vehemently defend our convictions. Especially in a time of political divide so heated that I’m not sure we’ll ever return to a time when partisanship was mostly civil.

So please wear a mask. Thank you.

More: The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2

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