Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The weird world of endless COVID

By Damon Linker The Week

Earlier this week, in Philadelphia, I went to my first concert since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Phoebe Bridgers show took place outdoors. Admittance required proof of vaccination. (A recent negative test result was insufficient.) Concertgoers were also required to wear masks.

A hassle? Not really, or not much more than I’m used to by now. I’m vaccinated. Despite that, I bring a mask everywhere I go and usually put it on when venturing indoors. In our part of the country, indoor masking is still the courteous default, even without a public mandate or private request. But at an outdoor event, where the likelihood of spreading the virus would be low even among the unvaccinated, and for which everyone had provided proof of vaccination? There’s an abundance of caution, and then there’s overkill — which is likely why most of the crowd had broken the rules and removed their masks before Bridgers took the stage.

Welcome to the weird world of endless COVID.

These draconian late-September regulations aren’t something I expected as recently as the third week of June, when I wrote a column about the experience of living through what I called the in-between stage of the pandemic. Effective vaccines had been approved. They were being distributed. I was already vaccinated, and so were those closest to me. The end was coming, and though it wasn’t clear quite how long it would take to arrive, arrive it would. Soon. I was sure of it.

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