Covid sanity starting to return. Plus: Do reparations fit conservatism? Nick & George

By Gary Abernathy

Some covid sanity beginning to return

Slowly but surely, some of our most influential mainstream media outlets are beginning to acknowledge that we don’t have to be ridiculous about how we react to covid-19.

The Washington Post today has a story posing the question of whether it’s OK or not to wear masks outdoors. Here’s an excerpt.:

The short answer is that masking outdoors can be “optional,” says Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. While he says people should still generally don masks indoors, Sax believes statewide mandates for wearing masks outdoors may no longer be necessary. “The science of the viral transmission is advanced enough that we really don’t want to be kind of confusing people by forcing them to wear masks in places where really they’re at minimal risk,” he says.

A lot of people (including yours truly) have never worn masks outdoors because we didn’t think it was scientifically logical based on the evidence. But millions of people obviously felt otherwise.

Now, with vaccines, the next goal is for everyone to acknowledge that there’s little risk of indoor transmission for vaccinated people, or for them to be carriers endangering others. There are some who continue to preach that even vaccinated people should still wear masks. The science pretty clearly says otherwise. For example, consider this story from Vox last month:

But a growing body of evidence suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines do, in fact, cut down on viral transmission. Two recent studies show some pretty favorable results — one from the UK that foundthat two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine cut down by 86 percent someone’s chances of developing an infection thatthey could pass along, the othera study in Israel that found an 89.4 percent reduction (though it should be noted that the Israeli study has yet to be fully released). These findings are consistent with what we know about vaccines and transmission in general. In other words, even as we wait for more definitive studies on the vaccines’ effects on transmission, more and more scientists think wedo have enough information to feel pretty good about the vaccines’ capacity to give us back a semblance of normalcy as we approach a year of life in a pandemic.

For whatever reason, a lot of people want to perpetuate the need for precautions that seem unnecessary from a scientific viewpoint. We need to consider things other than lab results when it comes to life in America, but when even lab results favor regaining some lost freedoms, let’s pay attention. Shedding masks as soon as possible is a desirable goal, as I discussed in a Post column a while back.

To reiterate a point I’ve made lately, I’ve received one covid vaccine shot, and I’ll get my second one next week. Getting vaccinated makes sense to me, but I won’t preach to anyone about it. In the meantime, washing your hands frequently is what experts have always said since the start (and it’s true with the flu, too) is really the most important preventative measure short of a vaccine.

Reparations might fit the conservative philosophy

From my latest in the Washington Post:

I remain unconvinced that an apology would have much real value, but the more substantive notion of reparations is worth discussing. In fact, it could be argued that the idea fits within the conservative philosophy. We’ll come back to that. But it is undeniable that White people have disproportionately benefitted from both the labor and the legacy of slavery, and — crucially — will continue to do so for generations to come.

When slavery was abolished after a bloody civil war, African Americans were dispersed into a world that was overtly hostile to them. Reconstruction efforts were bitterly resisted by most Southern Whites, and attempts to educate and employ former slaves happened only in fits and starts. The government even reneged on its “40 acres and a mule” pledge. After slavery, prejudice and indifference continued to fuel social and economic disparity…

…It is a tenet of conservatism that a level playing field is all we should guarantee. But that’s meaningless if one team starts with an unsurmountable lead before play even begins.

Read the whole column here. Subscription may be required.

George Clooney is just Nick Clooney’s son

Let’s end the week with something on the lighter side.

I came across a story about George Clooney and the rest of the cast of ER participating in an online event for an environmental cause. It reminded me that I can’t think of George without immediately thinking of his father. For many of us who grew up in the Cincinnati TV market in the 1960s and ‘70s, George Clooney is merely Nick Clooney’s son.

For those who don’t remember, or never knew, Nick Clooney was one of Cincinnati’s top TV personalities. He hosted various variety shows, and then became the top-rated news anchor in the Queen City at WKRC, Channel 12.

George inherited several obvious personality traits from Nick, especially the ability to project on camera a sense of being a warm, at-ease, laid-back individual.

Cincinnati watched George grow up. He made a few appearances on local TV, not just with his father. Here’s a clip of young George appearing with another Cincinnati TV icon, Al Lewis, on “The Uncle Al Show,” supposedly in 1970, which would make George 8 or 9, which seems about right based on appearances in the video. In case you don’t recognize him, according to one viewer who comments on the video, “George Clooney is the first boy to get on the boat. Later you see him untying the boat from the dock and steering the boat. George is taller than the other boy and has darker hair. He is wearing his hat farther forward on his head, so that his bangs are covered by the hat.”

Enjoy, and have a great weekend.

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