They walk among us. The last of the Covidians. We see them every day, masked while walking their dog in the park, or alone in their car. We have that friend or loved one who badgers us about vaccines and boosters like a mid-level PR executive at Pfizer.
There is also the social media warrior who will never admit they got anything wrong about lockdowns, that even with our economy and education system in shambles, we should be grateful.
Let’s not forget the public health officials like Holy Saint Fauci, who we recently learned had a mega-millions...

They walk among us. The last of the Covidians. We see them every day, masked while walking their dog in the park, or alone in their car. We have that friend or loved one who badgers us about vaccines and boosters like a mid-level PR executive at Pfizer.

There is also the social media warrior who will never admit they got anything wrong about lockdowns, that even with our economy and education system in shambles, we should be grateful.

Let’s not forget the public health officials like Holy Saint Fauci, who we recently learned had a mega-millions windfall while Americans’ purchasing power plummeted into the poorhouse. “Oh no,” they warn, “don’t get complacent now! Winter is coming!”

The last Covidians are not like the Japanese soldiers on the islands after World War Two who didn’t know the conflict had ended; they are more like Japanese soldiers still standing guard in Tokyo after the war, asking a bewildered populace, “why are you doing that?”

Last month, Joe Biden declared that the pandemic was over. It was one of those rare instances in which the president says something that actually makes sense. Of course it’s over. Local and state legal restrictions have receded into near oblivion, and most Americans go about their usual this and that with nary a thought of the Rona.

Here in New York City, the new message on masking in subways and other spaces is “you do you.” This from people who spent two years barking “you do whatever you’re told, or else.” In their heyday, the Covid lockdown enforcers, both official and otherwise, were about as conciliatory as a dominatrix. Now it’s you do you?

These were the people who had apoplectic fits if your mask dipped below your nose, who starred in viral video after viral video of grocery store freakouts and carseat diatribes. Even the quiet ones would glare molten steel into the maskless, their angry and disgusted eyes visible over their mask-hidden scowls.

So how should those of us who have moved on from the sad piano music television ads and the daily crunching of Covid numbers deal with those who are bitterly clinging to their pandemic?

I suppose kindness ought to be the order of the day — but didn’t kindness get us into this mess in the first place? Wasn’t part of the reason Americans allowed the absurd and arbitrary lockdown measures — ignored by their betters — to linger so long a desire to be kind to the terrified?

Even after thousands thronged in protest against police violence, like dozens of Lollapaloozas, we still told ourselves that the polite and decent thing to do was pretend it never happened and keep on social distancing. We were chumps.

Not only were we played for fools, we were mocked and chastised, fired from jobs, called grandma killers, barred from social media, fined for running our businesses, and just generally treated quite shabbily. Do we simply forget all that?

Nobody thinks it’s a good idea to walk up to people wearing a mask and start berating them, even though that was once a perfectly normal part of one’s day if one defied protocols. But what about a little gentle shaming? A wink and smile while saying, “Remember, don’t touch your face.” Or perhaps, “2020 called and it wants its mindless obedience back.” Get creative.

There are two problems with letting bygones be bygones and ignoring the hypochondriacal phobias of our fellow citizens. One, seeing people’s faces, going to work in offices, and having normal social interactions are part of a functioning society. But also, the last Covidians are giving cover to a parade of Covid lies.

The longer they are allowed to pretend that Covid is still an emergency that must be a part of everything we do, the more reasonable the 2020 absurdities — like washing your groceries and not touching doorknobs — seem and the more justified the immoral lockdowns appear to be.

The real kindness here is to tell people who aren’t at rare, unique, and specific risk to Covid that they look utterly ridiculous when they continue these absurd precautions that didn’t work in the first place. It’s like wearing a T-shirt that says, “don’t take anything I say seriously.”

If we were all in it together when it was time to shut off the lights and huddle in our houses to fight the virus, then we must all be in it together as we emerge from our lockdown nightmare. It’s time to take the mask off your face or face the fact that you look like a fool. And it is nobody else’s job to pretend that you don’t.