The Responses To This Slate Writer's Call To End Outdoor Masking Tell You All You Need To Know About The Left

Posted: Apr 18, 2021 3:30 PM
The Responses To This Slate Writer's Call To End Outdoor Masking Tell You All You Need To Know About The Left

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Slate senior editor Shannon Palus stepped into a social media minefield Saturday when she tweeted out her piece suggesting an end to outdoor public masking in most situations.

The article, titled, "It's About Time for Us to Stop Wearing Masks Outside," uses knowledge that many of us have known the entirety of the pandemic--that the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 diminishes to almost minuscule levels outdoors--to argue that there is no longer any need for outdoor masking.

Palus begins by establishing her absolute devotion to forced public masking and even "shaming" to control the spread of COVID-19, telling readers that last spring, a year ago, was "one of the last times" she "stepped outside [her] Brooklyn apartment without a mask."

The Slate editor then goes into some detail citing the solid science behind the lack of outdoor transmission.

It’s true that nothing is 100 percent safe. But because little particles floating through the air are a main concern with COVID, the outdoors is very, very safe. Anything you exhale will just be diluted very quickly, especially if you’re moving around. Yes, the coronavirus can spread in other ways. As Razani said, “If you’re right next to someone and you spit on them outdoors, it’s not going to magically protect you from their spit.” But that comment illustrates that the risk of getting COVID while briefly coming within 6 feet of someone outside is so small that your exchange of fluids would almost have to be purposeful.

Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician with McMaster University, recently wrote an op-ed in the Toronto Star noting that last summer’s outdoor gatherings coincided with an all-time low of cases in the city. While it’s important to mask in outdoor crowds or if you’re hanging out close to someone in a park, Chagla explains, the main message should be that the outdoors is a safe place to be. He gave me a rough sense of how unlikely outdoor transmission is in the scenario where you’re walking unmasked on the sidewalk and briefly pass someone. First, you or the person you’re passing would have to happen to have an asymptomatic infection, he explained, and then everyone would have to be exhaling and inhaling at just the right moment, and also, exchanging enough particles to actually seed another infection: “You’re talking about a probability of getting hit by a car, and being struck by lightning."

All in all, minus the ubiquitous deference to the 'masks work!' gods, it's a solid piece. Since coronavirus mainly spreads indoors when people are crowded together, masking--if it worked--would make far more sense in crowded spaces indoors than in the open air outside. However, instead of having some logic and common sense, our overlords in many cases chose to push the extreme--which in the end breeds non-compliance and frustration (not to mention many more people coming over to Team Reality).

Writes Palus:

But masks shouldn’t go on being a blunt-force declaration of safety; we should embrace their nuanced use, starting with the idea that they might be overkill in some settings outdoors. This is especially true for people who have been fully vaccinated, and for whom wearing a mask in an already very-low risk setting is more of a show of participation in pandemic society than a medical necessity ... Being overly vigilant about masks when they are not important makes it more difficult to keep wearing them when they are. Also, I fear that it is making us look a little ridiculous.

From my perspective at least, this doubtless super-liberal writer is halfway there. If forced public masking, indoors OR outdoors, made any difference at all, wouldn't we be seeing it played out before our eyes in the performance of states that have either not implemented the entire pandemic or have done away with it since March? Wouldn't Michigan and New York be doing fine and Florida, Texas, and Mississippi be swimming in dead bodies?  

But hey, if masking inside in most settings doesn't make a difference, masking OUTSIDE makes even less of one, and I certainly laud the Slate editor for taking a brave stance, especially given today's insane political climate. 

The insane responses to her tweet, however, show that many on the left aren't ready to be done with masking anytime, anywhere, or under any circumstances. 

Masks "foreverrrrrr," anyone?? 

Nope, hypochondriac control-freak lefties won't be ditching their Linus blankets, er, face masks anytime soon, even when COVID transmission is near zero.