DANIEL VAUGHAN: Toxic COVID-19 pessimism needs to stop

Anthony Fauci telling people to wear double masks is the height of getting high on your own supply. It’s not that he’s wrong that doubling up masks can theoretically lead to lower transmission. That’s self-evidently true. Why stop there, though?

If we all walked around in hazmat suits, we’d get maximum protection from everything. But just because something is true doesn’t make it acceptable public policy.

China welded the doors of apartments to prevent people with COVID-19 from exposing anyone else. I haven’t read a CDC-authorized study on the effectiveness of that policy choice. Still, I imagine welding people shut in their apartments is close to 100% effective in curbing viral spread. 

The Fauci comment highlights that the best form of protection has always been the N-95 masks, which were available to everyone for the longest time before the pandemic. Those masks are still in a shortage, and we’d preferred to have healthcare workers wear them, though you can buy them now yourself.

It’s the evolution of these Fauci statements to combat mask shortages that tells you these are lies, not just a mind changing on new information. First, he said don’t wear them. Now, he’s pivoted not only to wear one but wear two!

David Burge’s joke on this was great: “I put on 17 masks yesterday and have now achieved immortality.”

This Fauci mindset shows the continuing levels of contempt America’s so-called public health expert class has for the public.

And it’s that same mindset that’s driving coverage of the vaccine rollout. The constant media drumbeat is that there are shortages of all the vaccines in every state. That might be true insofar that demand is astronomically high for this vaccine. But according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, no state has used up its entire supply. In fact, the country as a whole has stayed around 50-60% usage depending on the day and states reporting.

There’s a stark difference between a genuine shortage and a state mishandling its distribution plan. Jim Geraghty at National Review noted this same issue:

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced his state had temporarily run out of the vaccine. But according to the Bloomberg chart, New York has used just 61 percent of its nearly 2.4 million allocated doses. Either the Bloomberg data are wildly inaccurate, or Cuomo is exaggerating supply problems to cover up distribution problems.

Could Andrew Cuomo, the guy who sent COVID-19 into nursing homes, who allegedly lied about the number of people who died by as much as 50%, could he not be above the board? The New York attorney general seems to think so:

The investigation found that the number of Covid deaths among nursing home residents in some facilities rose by more than 50% when residents who died in the hospital are counted. The state’s official Covid-19 death toll in nursing homes, which stands at more than 8,700, excludes patients who died after being transported to a hospital.

The lying gets packaged in the form of “noble lies,” the kind of untruths said for society’s betterment. Those lies range everywhere from Fauci’s shifting statements on masks to Cuomo and the number of dead in nursing homes.

These kinds of lies have long-term consequences, however. They can’t continue unanswered. There will be blowback. We live in a populist age where the internet’s democratization powers can raise or lower any person or idea at any time.

It was these kinds of lies, the pretentiousness of the elites that brought Donald Trump to the Oval Office, that brought about Brexit, and resulting in populist moves across the globe. That impulse has not receded with Trump leaving the White House or Brexit fading from the memories.

Trump was always a symptom of something larger, not a cause unto himself. Telling people to wear two masks is the kind of behavior that pours gasoline on the larger populist movement. Continuing to speak those “noble” lies gives proof to the people who believe the system is rigged against them.

Joe Biden ran a race and pitched himself as a return to normalcy. He may very well want that. But the public health experts at his disposal are doing everything in their power to ensure that we’re going to be right back at this populist fomenting point two to four years down the road with the next elections.

This mindset is one of toxic pessimism. The experts only report the bad, no matter what, because they distrust the people to do the right thing if given good news. That’s why, even when we’ve got multiple vaccines and a clear end to the pandemic in sight, the same experts are content to continue pushing lies.

Toxic pessimism keeps everyone locked on worst-case scenarios to scare them straight. The problem is that this strategy has never worked, ever. It’s the boy who cried wolf one too many times. People either see through the lies or call out the boy who cried out wolf for lying.

It’d be far better to be as transparent and honest as possible. But that requires trust. And the toxic pessimism of the elites prevents them from seeing the mass public as anything other than morons to be manipulated through official statements. That mindset is going to return us to the politics of 2016.