We’re Being Trained Not to Care

As pandemic mask requirements ease, the culture war rages on

Katelyn Burns
GEN
Published in
3 min readMay 20, 2021

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Photo: Sebastian Condrea / Getty Images

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control released updated Covid-19 mask recommendations, telling the public that vaccinated people can safely go without a mask in both indoor and outdoor settings.

The White House welcomed the news, with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris holding a joint address where Biden ceremoniously ripped off his mask.

“Today is a great day for America,” he said.

Despite the CDC recommendation, however, many people still aren’t comfortable taking off their masks. Firstly, there’s a huge overlap between Americans opposed to getting the vaccine and those opposed to wearing masks. So there’s no way to know if those around us without masks are actually vaccinated.

This presents problems for immunocompromised people and children who are too young to get vaccinated. Those who go maskless and refuse to get the vaccine can still spread the virus to others, as we saw happen before vaccines became widely available.

Even packed indoor venues often won’t require proof of vaccination to go maskless. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said that people would have to go by the “honor system” when it comes to mask usage. This is a recipe for disaster.

My own kids are too young to be vaccinated. Are we to keep them locked away in their house until they can get the jab, or do we risk exposing them to the virus via those who just don’t care?

In the meantime, culture warrior scolds have turned their collective ire at those who still feel the need to mask up. At Substack blog Persuasion, Yascha Mounk argued that vaccinated people who still wear masks are taking part in “hygiene theater” and virtue signaling.

There are many reasons why someone who is vaccinated would choose to wear a mask. It helps prevent all kinds of airborne diseases and should become standard for anyone feeling under the weather.

But this would mean caring for other people, and that’s something the self-appointed culture warriors just can’t stand for. A lack of care permeates every so-called…

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Katelyn Burns
GEN
Writer for

Political journalist. The first openly trans Capitol Hill reporter in US history. Writing about more than just trans issues. Follow her on Twitter @transscribe