Slate senior editor Shannon Palus stepped into a social media minefield Saturday when she tweeted out her piece suggesting an end to outdoor public masking in most situations.
The article, titled, “It’s About Time for Us to Stop Wearing Masks Outside,” uses knowledge that many of us have known the entirety of the pandemic–that the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 diminishes to almost minuscule levels outdoors–to argue that there is no longer any need for outdoor masking.
I wrote about why it’s time to stop wearing masks *all the time* outside https://t.co/TFThVWfiJT
— Shannon Palus (@shanpalus) April 17, 2021
Palus begins by establishing her absolute devotion to forced public masking and even “shaming” to control the spread of COVID-19, telling readers that last spring, a year ago, was “one of the last times” she “stepped outside [her] Brooklyn apartment without a mask.”
The Slate editor then goes into some detail citing the solid science behind the lack of outdoor transmission.
It’s true that nothing is 100 percent safe. But because little particles floating through the air are a main concern with COVID, the outdoors is very, very safe. Anything you exhale will just be diluted very quickly, especially if you’re moving around. Yes, the coronavirus can spread in other ways. As Razani said, “If you’re right next to someone and you spit on them outdoors, it’s not going to magically protect you from their spit.” But that comment illustrates that the risk of getting COVID while briefly coming within 6 feet of someone outside is so small that your exchange of fluids would almost have to be purposeful.
Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician with McMaster University, recently wrote an op-ed in the Toronto Star noting that last summer’s outdoor gatherings coincided with an all-time low of cases in the city. While it’s important to mask in outdoor crowds or if you’re hanging out close to someone in a park, Chagla explains, the main message should be that the outdoors is a safe place to be. He gave me a rough sense of how unlikely outdoor transmission is in the scenario where you’re walking unmasked on the sidewalk and briefly pass someone. First, you or the person you’re passing would have to happen to have an asymptomatic infection, he explained, and then everyone would have to be exhaling and inhaling at just the right moment, and also, exchanging enough particles to actually seed another infection: “You’re talking about a probability of getting hit by a car, and being struck by lightning.”
All in all, minus the ubiquitous deference to the ‘masks work!’ gods, it’s a solid piece. Since coronavirus mainly spreads indoors when people are crowded together, masking–if it worked–would make far more sense in crowded spaces indoors than in the open air outside. However, instead of having some logic and common sense, our overlords in many cases chose to push the extreme–which in the end breeds non-compliance and frustration (not to mention many more people coming over to Team Reality).
But masks shouldn’t go on being a blunt-force declaration of safety; we should embrace their nuanced use, starting with the idea that they might be overkill in some settings outdoors. This is especially true for people who have been fully vaccinated, and for whom wearing a mask in an already very-low risk setting is more of a show of participation in pandemic society than a medical necessity … Being overly vigilant about masks when they are not important makes it more difficult to keep wearing them when they are. Also, I fear that it is making us look a little ridiculous.
From my perspective at least, this doubtless super-liberal writer is halfway there. If forced public masking, indoors OR outdoors, made any difference at all, wouldn’t we be seeing it played out before our eyes in the performance of states that have either not implemented the entire pandemic or have done away with it since March? Wouldn’t Michigan and New York be doing fine and Florida, Texas, and Mississippi be swimming in dead bodies?
Here, President Biden begs states that have lifted mask mandates to put them back in place. Based on his assumed ‘logic,’ you’d think that states that have lifted mandates or never had them were drowning in dead bodies and overcrowded hospitals. Is that the case?
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) March 29, 2021
But hey, if masking inside in most settings doesn’t make a difference, masking OUTSIDE makes even less of one, and I certainly laud the Slate editor for taking a brave stance, especially given today’s insane political climate.
The insane responses to her tweet, however, show that many on the left aren’t ready to be done with masking anytime, anywhere, or under any circumstances.
Imagine living in an area where there is no masking mandate. Stores, restaurants, and other public spaces are begging people to PLEASE wear masks. But here we have this woman saying, “Nah, run free in the great outdoors without a mask!” That’s not at all confusing. 1/2
— Min (@letos_refuge) April 17, 2021
I can’t believe @Slate approved this piece. It makes me rethink reading other pieces there. I’m *definitely* not doing a click-through on any links there for a good long time.
An actual epidemiologist / biostatistician (MPH/CPH)
— Min (@letos_refuge) April 17, 2021
Talk about a bad take. Pretty sad you chose to put this out there – I generally like Slate. Nobody likes masks but they are essential until this is over. Just because you’re tired and feel entitled doesn’t mean you bullhorn misleading information.
— Mark Favreau (@markfavreau) April 17, 2021
Work from home journalist cries they can’t see people’s smiles while out on a walk, says mask wearing is exhausting… Tell that to all the essential workers that handle this 8-10 hours a day
— Jay?? (@jedmondsx) April 17, 2021
lol. Brooklyn gentrifier-Karen gets real scientific here:
“It makes recreation really annoying, especially as the weather warms. It makes it difficult to escape, even temporarily, from the pandemic. It deprives us of seeing one another’s smiles!”
— The Good Ship Lollipop (@LetsTalkTurkey3) April 17, 2021
You say in your article that wearing a mask is exhausting in the heat & as someone who lives in South Florida, I believe that living with, or dying from, a disease that attacks your lungs sounds much more exhausting than any mask I’ve ever worn.
— nella (@popgoesthenella) April 17, 2021
first of all, leave ppl alone. second, not everyone is vaccinated, and some of us are enjoying not getting colds. third, sources on ‘being overly vigilant about masks when they are not important makes it more difficult to keep wearing them when they are’??? is that true? why?
— Lysistrata Lux (@luxatrix) April 17, 2021
Omg what an incredibly irresponsible article. Wtf?!
— (Geo) Georgia ?????????? (@GeoMitch44) April 17, 2021
Leave these pieces to people who are educated on this, and not your ugly ego.
— cassandra, no. (@getting_stabbed) April 17, 2021
I’m loving not seeing people not hock loogies, blast snotrockets outta their nose or just cough and sneeze uncovered in these city streets. I’ll keep the masks thank you kindly…
— ????The Ashbyman Can???? (@theashbyman_can) April 18, 2021
Masks “foreverrrrrr,” anyone??
The no colds thing is enough for me to wear a mask foreverrrrrr.
— Wild Irish Rosé (@OtisWilbury1) April 17, 2021
Masks are here to stay forever, Shannon. The sooner we lose the cultural stigma the sooner we can keep protecting ourselves and each other. Coronavirus is not the only airborne illness.
— ??? (@Mattlcostello) April 17, 2021
Nope, hypochondriac control-freak lefties won’t be ditching their Linus blankets, er, face masks anytime soon, even when COVID transmission is near zero.
#Responses #Slate #Writers #Call #Outdoor #Masking #Left #Scott #Morefield