In early September, approximately one month after the re-imposition of the indoor mask mandate in Washington, I walked into the Trader Joe’s on Capitol Hill without a mask. As expected, I was the only person maskless in the entire store. Yet, besides this detail, the experience was surprisingly uneventful. Not once did an angry shopper berate me for my insensitivity, nor was I ever asked to put my mask on. I checked out, huffed my grocery bag over my shoulder, and left. No harm, no foul.
How will the pandemic end? This is the question that has plagued us from the start. In the meantime, countless measures have been implemented as surefire ways to return us to normal: lockdowns, mask mandates, stimulus checks, travel bans, online school, and the “indomitable”vaccine. Nineteen months on, however, the results have been slight. Most mandates are still in place, the pandemic is still ongoing, and the question still goes very much unanswered.
Yet such failures have not stopped the ruling elite from establishing an end goal: virtual elimination of the virus. Indeed, whether explicitly or implicitly, all Covid-related legislation has been ultimately ordered toward this objective. As recently stated by Dr. Anthony Fauci himself: “We want to do better than just control. We want to be on the brink of elimination.”
Herein lies the problem: the total elimination of Covid-19 is simply impossible. Like other perennial respiratory viruses, Covid-19 spreads too rapidly and mutates into new variants too frequently to eliminate in any lasting way. This is nothing new—we deal with the seasonal flu every year. And though the coronavirus is slightly more contagious than its cousin, the fact remains that the two possess similarly low mortality rates for the majority of the population, particularly for children.
Therefore, reason would say we ought to treat Covid-19 as we have other similar diseases: with moderate precaution. This pandemic, however, has radically changed the mode by which we act. Where once the arrival of flu season caused little panic, Covid now necessitates hysteria: quarantines, contact tracing, city-wide mask mandates, even vaccine passports. Countries lock down over single new infections. Children are barred from in-person school for weeks if wind is caught that they might have been exposed. Employees are forced into a grave choice: get the vaccine or get fired.
Thus the new precedent is set: eradication or bust. And since we know that Covid-19 will never truly vanish, we now have our answer to how the pandemic ends.
If we are to follow the precedent to its logical conclusion, all mild perennial viruses—be they flu, Covid-19, or something else yet unknown—now merit no less than the shutdown of society. Simply put, there is no limiting principle here. We have handcuffed ourselves and given away the key.
Here we return to my jaunt at Trader Joe’s and what I believe to be the only path left: disobedience. We simply cannot continue a begrudged compliance in the hope that normalcy will one day return.