The pandemic is not over, stop acting like it is

I’m seeing a lot of slack in my little town: I’m vaccinated, but I still wear a mask in public and shy away from getting within 2 meters of anyone, but apparently a lot of the locals think the pandemic is over and have stopped bothering. It doesn’t help that we have idiots everywhere who claim without evidence that masks and vaccines are bad things that violate their rights.

So look at this ninny virtue-signaling to his fellow ignorati.

Just wear the mask, guy.

And then there’s the new conspiracy theory going around: getting vaccinated turns you into a plague rat.

A conspiracy ripping through the anti-vax world may finally drive some anti-maskers to do the unthinkable: wear a mask and keep their distance.

The conspiracy—which comes in several shapes and sizes—more or less says the vaccinated will “shed” certain proteins onto the unvaccinated who will then suffer adverse effects. The main worry is the “shedding” will cause irregular menstruation, infertility, and miscarriages. The entirely baseless idea is a key cog in a larger conspiracy that COVID-19 was a ploy to depopulate the world, and the vaccine is what will cull the masses.

Experts say the conspiracy is born from a fundamental misunderstanding of how vaccines work.

There has to be a limit to the absurdity, doesn’t there? First they bumble about claiming that a disease that has killed a half million people in the US doesn’t exist, and now they’re claiming that a disease that doesn’t exist and can’t exist is going to make everyone sterile. And they’re led by pseudo-intellectuals who have figured out that anything that causes fear will make them rich and famous.

There’s this guy named Jay Bhattacharya, whose claim to fame is that he is one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, that infantile libertarian whine that we ought to ignore all of epidemiology so that people will start spending money at businesses again. Back in January, he wrote this:

This is rather like Elon Musk claiming we’d have “zero new cases” by April…of 2020. Why does anyone listen to these wankers?

Do read this great debunking of Bhattacharya, but I think this is the most appropriate dismissal of his (and Musk’s) claims:

Twenty-five million cases and a quarter million dead is a pretty strong argument that you should just ignore these evil people…or arrest them.


  1. Artor says

    I made a disheartening and disappointing discovery recently. my oldest friend, the only one remaining from my home town, turned out to be anti-vax and anti-mask. He’s “done the research,” but from his explanations, it’s all emotion and bullshit. I had to table the discussion to preserve what remains of our friendship, but I won’t be seeing him until the pandemic is solidly finished, and my opinion of him has taken a serious hit. I always thought he was more considerate and respectful of others, but apparently not.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    …or arrest them.

    Oh, I WISH our government had the spine for that. However, civil libertarian naiveté about the supposed “rationality” of human beings and their ability to make correct decisions, a climate of general epistemological relativism (i.e. “Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want.”) despite (or in spite) of objective reality, and the need for the pollical status quo to pander to common stupidity prevents us to enforcing any real consequences for spreading lies and misinformation.

  3. says

    The CDC announced yesterday that anyone who’s fully vaccinated doesn’t need to mask anymore, except at hospitals or on public transit. Governor Walz has decided this means Minnesota can’t mandate masking. I am furious. How am I supposed to know if a maskless person is fully vaccinated or if they’re some anti-mask antivax idiot?

  4. call me mark says

    This idea that the covid vaccines somehow “shed” might have positive consequences if it causes the antivaxxers to mask up, keep their distance, and wash their hands. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still doing the right thing.

  5. raven says

    PZ Myers:
    Twenty-five million cases and a quarter million dead is a pretty strong argument that you should just ignore these evil people…or arrest them.

    Good luck with that idea.
    This pandemic has demonstrated a new fact about 21st century life.
    Some people are just Plague Rats.

    Florida governor Ron DeSantis to pardon residents facing penalties for … › world › florida-governor-par…

    21 hours ago — Florida’s Governor on Thursday said he would grant pardons to any residents of his state facing penalties for violating local COVID-19 curbs, …

    Here is one now.
    Governor Plague Rat DeSantis will pardon anyone in Florida for violating Covid-19 virus rules set up to limit the number of cases, deaths, and long term disability.
    Apparently both Plague Rats and the Covid-19 virus are ..Republican voters.

    PS The number of cases in India and deaths is a huge undercount.
    Estimates are that the real number of Covid-19 deaths is ca. 650,000.

  6. PaulBC says

    I’m a week out from my 2nd shot. I feel much safer, and that’s worth it by itself. Wearing a mask is no big deal. I will continue to wear one shopping, or at least I have no plans to stop. I wear a mask when biking, which was probably never necessary, and maybe I’ll stop that. The point is that I have no real urge to stop. At this point it’s as easy as putting on a seatbelt.

  7. microraptor says

    Oregon’s dropping its mask mandate despite not having reached its vaccination goals and the India variant having been found in the state.

  8. raven says

    We are seeing what the Covid-19 virus pandemic would be like if we just did nothing.
    A lot like India and Brazil.
    The number of cases and the number of deaths would be a lot higher.

    We have also seen what the Covid-19 virus pandemic would be like if we did something smart and competent.
    Not all countries ended up with high numbers of cases and deaths.
    China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia etc.. have so far managed to avoid the mass casualty events.

  9. raven says

    Yeah, I think the USA is jumping the gun here on declaring the pandemic over.
    I’m sure this decision is driven by politics and not the medical reality.
    The USA still has 40,000 cases a day and ca. 800 deaths.

    A lot of the people now in the ICU’s are Covid-19 virus deniers and antivaxxers.
    In the near future, it will be almost all of them.
    I read a report recently about a family that all got vaccinated.
    Except for the antivax sister.
    She caught the virus and is now…dead from Covid-19.

  10. PaulBC says

    davidc1@10 I agree with the point that nobody can tell if you’re smiling or scowling. It’s isn’t complete invisibility, but it’s a privacy shield. I am also reluctant to give that up.

    One disadvantage is that it’s harder (for me anyway) to spot people I know when I’m out. I thought I was good at remembering faces, but I get a lot of false positives when I can only see someone’s face above the nose.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    University of California, Riverside says one way to get white evangelicals to comply with rules is to use language that ties into their worldview , such as ‘Love thy neighbor , wear a mask’.
    (While this is unlikely to work on full-on conspiracy believers there is a grey area with people that absorb some information).

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Umeå is a University town, and as real summer temperatures arrived yesterday young people were sunbathing everywhere. Many were distancing, but there were many groups meeting and having fun… they seem convinced they are immortal.
    It is hard to get through with messages of caution, some get it, others are too easily distracted.

  13. PaulBC says


    University of California, Riverside says one way to get white evangelicals to comply with rules is to use language that ties into their worldview , such as ‘Love thy neighbor , wear a mask’.

    Because it worked so well stopping them from storming the Capitol.

    OK, those may be “full-on conspiracy believers” but there are a lot of them. About the last thing a white evangelical wants to hear is a liberal like me preaching Christianity back at them. It’s an issue of trust.

    You might recall that at the beginning of the pandemic, there was some other guy in the White House. They trusted him, and all of the messaging about not wearing masks and ignoring the pandemic were reinforced from top down. There’s really nothing to do about it at this point. In fact, forget about masks. Is it possible to get more of them vaccinated? Even former guy used to say that would be a good thing to have.

  14. cartomancer says

    My brother’s awful wife has become one of these strange anti-vax idiots, and is threatening to divorce him if he gets vaccinated. To be honest, that strikes me as killing two birds with one stone. I fail to see the down side.

  15. Bruce says

    Seeing the guy with the holey mask makes me want to wear flesh-colored short pants and then assless chaps over then when I go around town. I’m vaccinated. What would they think I’m “shedding”?

  16. whywhywhy says

    I will continue to require masks at our community garden work days until the prevalence of covid drops considerably.

    I think the CDC goofed by not taking local prevalence into account.

  17. says

    CNA News (Channel News Asia, from Singapore) says India’s true number of infected could be ten times higher, and the actual death toll near 2,000,000. The Times Of India published similar statements, also saying Russia could be over 700,000 dead and the US around 800,000.

    Taiwan went into semi-lockdown today as a precaution after the number of active cases doubled in less than a week. Libraries, pools, bars, theatres and pretty well everywhere that people congregate as forcibly closed for at least a week, potentially until June 8. Mass disinfection of multiple cities began tonight. I don’t know yet if I’ll be working next week.

    But on a positive note, the domestically produced Medigen vaccine for COVID-19 will be available for free in July for anyone on the government medical plan. The AZ vaccine is available now, but you have to pay for it.

  18. consciousness razor says

    University of California, Riverside says one way to get white evangelicals to comply with rules is to use language that ties into their worldview , such as ‘Love thy neighbor , wear a mask’.

    Because it worked so well stopping them from storming the Capitol.

    Yeah, and they should also be good stewards of God’s creation (which isn’t theirs), as the Bible tells them to do right away in Genesis. We all know how well that has been working out. They’d still rather burn fossil fuels, pollute everything, use as many resources as possible, kill and destroy things indiscriminately, and so forth.

    What they’re looking for is apparently just an excuse to spread the good word about hating and fighting the bad guys … whoever they happen to think those are at any given time. Gays or homophobes, Jews or antisemites, socialists or the poors, environmentalists or polluters, people who steal elections or those from whom you must steal elections. You name it, they’ve got it covered. The answer could turn out to be all of the above, as long as they’re not sufficiently “Christian” (read: “like me”).

    Anyway, if you’re not actually offering them that sort of thing with your random Biblical references, they don’t seem to have much use for it.

  19. consciousness razor says

    I meant to say either “socialists and the rich” or “capitalists or the poors” to draw a parallel with the others. But in any case, it could be everybody/everything at the same time, if they think the whole world is shit and want it all to burn.

  20. consciousness razor says

    Following up on #23 and #24….

    The point is, “they think the whole world is shit and want it all to burn” is a worldview, and we have no control over which worldview they’ve already adopted. Also, even if it would (sometimes) “work” to get them to do a specific thing we hope they’ll do, that’s a rather manipulative and dishonest approach to take with people. Anyway, we don’t need to (and shouldn’t) tie it into a demented fucking worldview like that. We can just say what we think directly, not try to convince them that it was their thought all along. And probably, if we’re having a conversation like that, it wasn’t.

    It could actually be beneficial for them, if they become more accustomed to having the experience of consciously changing their minds about something that they now realize they had gotten wrong before. If it’s only ever reinforced that there’s nothing for them to learn or that there’s nobody worth listening to other than themselves, then we’re not helping them break out of those bad habits.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    Consciousness Razor @ 25

    Agreed….The depressing part is, so.many will only admit they were mistaken when they are at death’s door with COVID19- and some of them not even then.
    When not even death is an argument that penetrates the cognitive… malignancy, or what ever it should be called, it looks like USA could easily lose another 100.000 dead just from fact resistance.
    (This is what a generation of Fox News and talk radio created, with complicity by half the political establishment. Citizen Robespierre may have been on to something.)

  22. says

    I am curious to know if hospitalizations are still high in the US and Europe compared to Canada where we have trouble in getting vaccines available to people.

  23. unclefrogy says

    too many bumps
    I am not sure if faux and friends created it / them but they sure as hell feed the ignorance and resentment to take advantage of them.
    Their is just not much if any personal incentive to do otherwise, no as much profit in truth as in easy lies.
    uncle frogy

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    coreyschlueter @27: Hospitalizations in Canada are so high because we have too many conservative provincial governments who have kept trying to open things up against the advice of their experts.

    One thing the pandemic has highlighted (as if it wasn’t obvious before) is that today’s conservatives are not fit to govern.

  25. wsierichs says

    In Baton Rouge, “you must wear a mask” signs are disappearing at businesses. The governor has relaxed mask requirements (the Repugnicans have been screaming about his “tyranny” for a year, so I’m sure he’s tired of that fight). I’m vaccinated and started going out to eat in a few places, which means I have to unmask to eat. Otherwise, I stay masked. I also go out in the mid-afternoon when few people are in restaurants so I’ve been able to get tables much more distant than 6 feet from any other diner. I will continue to wear a mask in stores and anywhere else I’ll be around people, and continue to limit restaurant excursions and time them to avoid the crowded periods.

  26. consciousness razor says

    Agreed….The depressing part is, so.many will only admit they were mistaken when they are at death’s door with COVID19- and some of them not even then.

    Yep. We should still try our best, of course, but it never comes with a guarantee. As a wise person once said, “trying is the first step to failure.” (Upon googling it, I learned that this is a Homer Simpson quote, but that’s alright.)

  27. raven says

    Poll finds more Americans than ever think we should wear … › history › article

    Oct 5, 2020 — Despite noisy no-mask protests, 92 percent of 2,200 Americans polled say they wear a face mask when leaving their home, with 74 percent …

    In Realityland, the vast majority of Americans support wearing masks and do so.
    The number of people who want to risk getting Covid-19 virus and risk death isn’t all that high.

    The anti-maskers are a small minority that is more noise than substance.
    With high overlap with fundie xians, climate denialists, flat earthers, antivaxxers and so on.
    The lunatic fringes.

  28. Rich Woods says

    @Transitive #22:

    Whoops, sorry, wrong video link.

    Don’t apologise! I haven’t seen an Adlib card since 1998 so I was sitting back and enjoying a peaceful, private trip down Memory Lane…

  29. PaulBC says

    So look at this ninny virtue-signaling to his fellow ignorati.

    Also, it reminds me of some variation on a crotchless fetish. I find him more disturbing with each viewing.

  30. says

    Day one of semi-lockdown in Taipei, and it’s not going well. A friend of mine living in the Wanhua district, almost dead centre, says people are walking around back alley markets without masks.

    Masks are mandatory outside, with heavy fines for ignoring it. All nightmarkets are supposed to be shuttered, along with all non-essential places (e.g. bars, pools, libraries, restaurants are takeout only). It could end up getting out of control, just like everywhere else.

  31. hemidactylus says

    Now vaccinated I’m trying to reprogram myself to normalcy. I’m still going to wear my mask as much as reasonable in indoor spaces. I never did in the break area at work. I never did on my early morning walks where it was just me and the neighborhood cats. I probably will not mask outdoors.

    I do wonder if an occasional exposure to CoV2 could act as a booster and give my immune system a purchase on the epitopic look of coronaviruses overall in case more of these things come down the pike. Wasn’t one issue that most of us were immunologically naive to these beasties? Shouldn’t I trust in the vaccine? If exposed to variants wouldn’t I become more immune to this beast in general until the fall boosters ensure better protection? Or is that reckless?

    I know the people who are refusing to get vaccinated are still at risk, perhaps even from fully vaccinated me but at some point isn’t the responsibility for the consequences entirely on them and/or the people who have been lying to them? I want to get back to normalcy, COVIDiots be damned!

    Would exposure and response to CoV2 confer any protection against original SARS or MERS? Or are those too overwhelming?

  32. nomdeplume says

    That photo could be used in an illustrated dictionary against the word insanity.

  33. hemidactylus says

    @39- nomdeplume

    He kinda resembles the AMC rendition of The Walking Dead’s Negan though I’m trying hard to like him more because Daryl/Carol (vomit) has become so obnoxious. Sadly antihero Negan burned barbed wire bat version Lucille in a fire.

    The ripped mask guy is no Negan. Lucille would take care of people like that.