Having COVID has certainly not been sunshine and rainbows, but it’s also not been anywhere near as bad as having a virus that’s killed 15 million people could be. That’s predominantly thanks to being triple-vaxxed in addition to being young and reasonably healthy. And while I’m grateful that my experience so far has been limited to the symptoms of a bad cold plus a couple days of overwhelming fatigue, I’m still concerned about the very real possibility of long COVID—which could be a mild cough for several weeks or the inability to get out of bed for several months. (And to be clear, the fatigue even from my “mild” case is no joke. I put off writing this piece until the last minute because I just didn’t have the energy earlier.) But mostly, I’m pissed off at the people in power who have decided COVID is no longer an issue worth thinking about.

Usually this is where I would dump a bunch of research, linking to case numbers and state policies and the unhinged opinion from a Florida judge ending mask mandates on public transit. Apparently I’m more tired than I thought, though, because I just don’t have it in me right now to track all that down. All I’ll say is that anecdotally I’m aware of a massive increase in positive tests from friends and acquaintances in the last couple months, as well as a spike in infections among major government officials who keep attending large-scale indoor gatherings with no mitigations in place. The vast majority of these people will be fine. But the thing about pandemics is that, contrary to current guidance from the CDC and most governments, they’re about public health, not individual health. People are still dying preventable deaths every day, and every person that thinks of COVID in terms of personal risk assessment instead of an interpersonal obligation is at least potentially contributing to those deaths. Wear a mask to protect yourself, yes, but just as importantly: wear a mask to protect the people who you come into contact with, and the people they will come into contact with. It shouldn’t be that hard.

I am fine. I will likely continue to be fine. My friends and family have so far been fine. But thousands of people are dying daily and tens of thousands more are hospitalized. America’s fetishization of individual responsibility is fundamentally antithetical to the very idea of public health and we have a million bodies to prove it.

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