Americans must learn from a fading COVID crisis

The pandemic is almost over — we think. Not as a medical fact. COVID-19 will be around forever, just like the cold and the flu, but it no longer dominates our daily lives and politics. The Democrats’ mild reaction to last week’s court decision against mask mandates are among the many signs the American people are moving on.

On April 18, a judge in a federal district court ruled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacked the authority to impose its travel mask mandate, which covers planes, trains and mass transit. Most airlines dropped their requirements immediately. So did some government agencies.


Some commentators squawked, but significantly, the Biden administration wavered. Even after announcing, after a multiday delay, that the Justice Department would appeal the ruling, the administration has thus far declined to seek a stay of the district court decision, which would bring back the mandate immediately. It’s clear Biden’s team does not want to resurrect it. Some of that is politics. Democratic candidates don’t want to run against Republicans who can exploit voters’ mask-fatigue. That would not only rouse the Republican base, but also appeal to many centrist voters who feel enough is enough. These are voters Democrats need.

An Axios/Ipsos poll released this month showed only 1 in 11 Americans still believes COVID-19 is a “serious crisis.” Almost twice as many don’t think it’s a problem. Three of 4 Americans believe COVID-19 remains a problem, but one the nation can manage. More and more Americans are starting to live as they did before COVID-19.

​Barring a new and very dangerous variant, the pandemic is no longer an overriding crisis. This gives us time to think about​ the ways we can protect the public against disease without weakening or even destroying crucial aspects of American life. Americans have experienced the destructive cost and the inequity of lockdowns, for example. They have witnessed small businesses lost forever because the state forced them to close, while allowing big chains to stay open.

They have also witnessed the dangerous limitations of the creed of go-it-alone individualism.

The government — and the people themselves — made many mistakes that need to be acknowledged, and not repeated, when the next pandemic hits.

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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