Don’t call it a comeback. Prior to the 2022 midterm elections, there were signs that if Republicans had success, Covid would be roaring back with all its former aspects of fearmongering from the Democratic media complex, requiring more spending, more regulation and the return of rules Americans previously found anathema.
This would serve the purpose of said complex in numerous ways: helping them push back against Republican efforts to end those supposedly “emergency” authorities and bureaucratic programs that now must find ways to sustain themselves. Everything from proxy voting to government vaccine requirements to the handwaving justification for the student loan bailout would be at risk, if the fiction that we are in the midst of constant emergency could not be maintained.
Even without the red wave, Republican success in taking control of the House has led to early indications that this prediction is already turning out to be true. Just in the past week, Los Angeles County announced another indoor mask mandate — and the Centers for Disease Control began recommending the return of masking in Long Island and New York City.
The lame duck Congress, where Democrats still hold all the power, is rushing to ensure that pandemic-era “emergency” spending is enshrined as the new normal.
And when denouncing the potential elimination of vaccine mandates in the national defense bill, White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said: “Republicans in Congress have decided that they’d rather fight against the health and wellbeing of our troops than protecting them.”
The permanent pandemic posture extends beyond the openly partisan to the bureaucratic class as well. The CDC’s Rochelle Walensky, in an interview with NPR yesterday, sounded as if she was still in her mindset of “impending doom” from a year and a half ago, issuing the same kind of White Walker-style warnings we heard on the eve of 2021’s “winter of death” — a winter which, incidentally, never came.
“We have always said… that we wanted you to put your masks away, not to throw your masks out,” Walensky chided listeners. “There is a lot of infection in the community, that there’s a lot of severe disease coming into the hospital and that many of the beds in the hospitals are really now occupied by people with Covid-19. So to protect communities in those circumstances at those high levels, we have recommended and continue to recommend that those communities wear masks.”
The NPR reporter responded with a litany of invitations to engage in even greater extremism about what she branded the “tripledemic” (we have a new scary name for people getting sick around the holidays — how cute!). She pressed Walensky on why the CDC wasn’t using more “forceful messaging,” whatever that means, asking: “why isn’t the CDC more strongly recommending masking in public places right now” and whether Walensky herself would recommend “personally masking up at the supermarket or just avoiding large gatherings in general.”
To the last question, Walensky responded with recommendations that could have been taken from the height of Covid fearmongering: stay home, open windows, increase ventilation, wear a mask at large gatherings, get tested before you gather, and so on and so forth forever and ever Amen.
Resisting the permanent pandemic posture will require two things: people willing to actually reject the nonsense behind policies and rules long proven to have been of little to no use in practice, and leaders who will reject the emergency claims of policy prescriptions that were never actually about preventing illness or responding to real needs.
We must call out the obvious stupidity of going down the same ridiculous path we did when CNN was running the death ticker and teachers were holding kids hostage for taxpayer-funded ransoms. It will require living your life without shoving something up your nose before you can go to a Christmas party.
An example of such leadership is found in the response of outgoing North Carolina Republican senator Richard Burr, who has a bipartisan measure along with Washington Democratic senator Patty Murray that would, among other things, require Senate confirmation of future CDC directors, a step that Walensky has denounced as representing “the politicization of CDC at the time.” When asked about Walensky’s concerns, Burr offered the proper response: “Tough shit.”