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What is the Exit Plan?

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said last year that we were about to have a "Pearl Harbor" moment. It didn't feel like World War II then, but now, I feel like I'm sipping Veuve Clicquot at Rick's Café Américain in Casablanca as the world burns. New Zealand just ended a stay-at-home order, while officials in Australia told citizens not to even have a conversation with neighbors they come in contact with. (No, these aren't links to the Babylon Bee.) Six hundred thousand people were "pinged" in the UK and asked to stay home. Meantime, I spent part of my day at the office deciding whether to have the bison fajitas or the new beef parfait (shredded beef on mashed potatoes) at the upcoming state fair and then wondered where to stay on vacation in West Virginia. It felt decadent. Going to a fair and planning a vacation should feel normal

State Fair. Source: Pixabay.

West Virginia is done with restrictions; Indiana, pretty much so. But what is the exit plan to get back to normal for places that aren't done with restrictions? Wait for COVID to go away? A year and a half of humanity's best efforts haven't done it. But even if, say, New Zealand eradicates it, what then? Do they close up to visitors or make them quarantine for a week or two upon entering the country? If so, for how long? Is the exit plan to wait for cases or hospitalizations or deaths to go down? They're already at lows in the UK and much of the US. Is the exit plan to wait for vaccination rates to go up or compel people to get them? I'm getting skeptical of vaccine efficacy. Forty percent of hospital patients with COVID in the UK are vaccinated, while six of the fifty Texas Democrats that decamped to DC turned up with COVID despite double vaccination. That's a breakthrough rate of at least 12%. This is nowhere close to the 95% or so efficacy shown in the two-month trials. Maybe the vaccines confer immunity for only a few months, or maybe the mRNA vaccines are so delicate that a significant portion of them have been ineffective. 

I don't think the problem is politics, but a philosophy of safety über alles. Aristotle said that "any ethical theory must be based in part on an understanding of psychology and firmly grounded in the realities of human nature and daily life." With suicides, drug overdoses and depression way up, daily life upended and realities ignored, continued restrictions don't meet that standard. "Moral virtue is a relative mean between extremes of excess and deficiency, and in general the moral life is one of moderation in all things except virtue," he taught. "Stay safe" was not one of the virtues mentioned by him nor any other serious person I can recall. It's something your mother says to you. COVID didn't start this bizarre obsession with safety, but it's taken it to absurd lengths where it has devoured everything else.

Courage is at the top of the list of virtues--a virtue between rashness and cowardice. I can't take any beachheads for anyone. But in accordance with my risk level (low), I'm not wearing a mask anywhere it isn't required and I'm not holing up until this is over, which may be never. Nor will I go to anything that seems like a super-spreader, nor go out if I feel sick. People who lived through World War II said when it was over they mainly wanted to get back to normal. That's how I will spend the rest of my summer, enjoying the freedom that generation fought for.

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