But like a coffee enema Gwyneth Paltrow tries to sell you online, this is not based on science. If Joe tries to enforce such an order, he might see a countrywide yawn, since healthy people have already been meeting outdoors anyway (because unlike Joe, we aren’t afraid of tumbling up a flight of stairs in the slightest gust of wind)).
The White House once again sounds disconnected from reality. Asking people not to gather outside on July 4 is like asking migrants not to illegally cross our border just yet or requesting that Major not take a dump under the Resolute desk. I wonder what Joe has to say for himself.
“Look, look, this is science, all right? My mask protects you, your mask protects me, this mask protects this mask, science! We got to follow the rules a little bit longer. The rest of April, May, June, and a little bit of July, right? It’s not a long time. Seems like a long time, but it isn’t. I once spent three months in a basement. I came out. I was president.”
But at least he and Jen Psaki are on the same page.
“So the more masks, the better. We don’t know that the virus can transmit through arms or camera lenses, but we also don’t know that it does not.”
Now an obvious question is making the media rounds: should you still be wearing a mask outdoors? Well, yes, if you’re robbing an ice cream truck. The fact is, I’ve seen more excessive face shielding on the Frisbee players in Central Park than I have on the entire staff at Terminix. To quote Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Paul E. Sax (Pauly Sax? Sounds like a character from Goodfellas who doesn’t make it through the first act.): “Transmissions do not take place between individuals going for a walk, transiently passing each other on the street, a hiking trail or a jogging track.”
Peer-reviewed research from the Journal of Infectious Diseases, which has the worst swimsuit issue, says the odds of indoor transmission is 19 times (19 times!) higher than outdoors. So that’s why everyone in Texas isn’t dead.
So asking if you should still wear a mask outside when you’re alone is like asking if you should be eating Tide pods for breakfast. It’s a strong no. If you walk down any city street, everyone is wearing their masks as if their lives depended on it or they want to hide their identity when trying to burn down a courthouse. (One fact remains true: runners who wear masks are 50% more annoying than regular runners. And if you’re alone in your car wearing a mask, you might be alone for a reason. But I guess I’d wear a mask, too, if I was jamming along to Maroon 5 at a red light.)
The New York Times posed the outdoor masking question this week as if this is suddenly news. “Loosen up carefully,” they say, because now “science says so.” For more than a year, smart people were saying the risk of outdoor transmission was rare, that COVID is an indoor virus which spreads in stuffy rooms like a beer fart in an elevator after a night of boozing. Experts said the real dangers were places like nursing homes. (If only Andrew Cuomo was listening instead of trying to kiss everyone.)
Now, we’re told, there are practically no documented cases of brief outdoor interaction leading to corona transmission. It’s like toads causing warts. (I used to think that all the time). So if you’re passing other people on a sidewalk or being screamed at by a BLM member while dining alfresco, the exposure to exhaled particles appears to be too small to lead to infection.
If only the media hadn’t spread the opposite idea. It was their fear-mongering that got people to wear masks outside, which is pretty harmless except it got people to stay inside, which isn’t. It had beaches closed, skate parks closed, picnics canceled. It closed outdoor businesses and isolated people. Rather than protecting the vulnerable, we sent everyone home — young and old, healthy and sick — to that same stuffy apartment, sitting on the same couch, breathing the same air, watching the same reruns of “Forensic Files” (which, by the way, taught me that having a big life insurance policy is far more deadly than corona). In an effort to eliminate even the tiniest risk, we ended up putting everyone at greater risk, sending them to their basements and bedrooms like 330 million Joe Bidens.
Of course, wearing a mask indoors is a good thing, since half of America is still not vaccinated and masks do work. It operates on the same principle as a wall. Any kind of obstacle reduces migration of people and particles, but we’ve got to get people outside for things besides riots. It’s also time to let people eat at restaurants. It makes more sense than forcing restaurants to put huts on the sidewalk and calling that outdoors. That is not outdoors. That’s Gilligan and The Skipper dining in, and while eating at a hut on a city street may decrease your chances of getting COVID, it increases your chances of a homeless man relieving himself in your drink.
Last summer, people were outside more and infections hit all time lows. Take sunshine, fresh air, and open spaces, add in physical activity and you’re improving your health, COVID or not. This is why parks and beaches should always be open. They are medicine, especially with schools, gyms and churches closed.
Is everything 100% safe? Nothing in life is 100%. We’ve seen the warning on a condom box. I’m just glad my parents didn’t.