Achieving Herd Stupidity

No mask, no brains, no serviceOne hundred scientists are now urging governors to require mask wearing in public, citing studies that show that “if 80% of people wear a mask in public, then COVID-19 transmission could be halted.”

Transmission could be halted with mask wearing, even before a vaccine is available.

People around the country are acting like the pandemic is over. It is not. And a second surge (or the acceleration of the first surge in some cases) in COVID-19 infections is already happening.

Instead of achieving what is called “herd immunity,” i.e. 80-90 percent of a population having immunity, we seem as a nation to be determined to achieve “herd stupidity.” Herd stupidity is the stubborn refusal to take the simplest steps to prevent the spread of the virus while also modestly increasing social contact with social distancing.

When you see those charts comparing various countries in terms of infections and death rates and the US. is at the top, it’s not a compliment. We consistently have among the worst rates of infection and death. And it is increasing.

President Trump plans to go ahead with a large INDOOR rally in Tulsa, OK on Saturday. But, rally goers must agree not to sue if they contract coronavirus by attending. Health officials want the rally cancelled as infection rates are on the rise in OK. The governor wants the rally at least moved outdoors. So, far, in the quest for achieving herd stupidity, neither of these sensible precautions seem likely to be taken.

New cases of COVID-19 are spiking around the country especially in states that pushed to re-open prematurely. Unsurprisingly, the worst hit areas are deemed “Trump country.

Cases continue to rise in the states where governors have been the most aggressive in opening public spaces and businesses that rely on close personal contact, such as salons and gyms. None have met the federal government’s core recommendation of a two-week decline in reported cases.

But just last month, two hair stylists with coronavirus came into contact with 140 clients. They wore masks and the salon had put social distancing policies in place, and so far none seem to have contracted the virus.

Mask wearing, social distancing, testing and contact tracing can work. It is stupid to abandon practices that work to decrease the spread of the virus.

There are other contributing factors to the rise in new infections and deaths. In the past two weeks, there have been powerful protests against police brutality. Photos show many protestors wearing masks, but it is almost impossible to socially distance in a crowd of thousands.

Shockingly, however, the police at the protests have routinely not been wearing their masks,  though they have them. “Police officers should be wearing masks,” an obviously irritated Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference NYC.

Police refusing to wear their masks, putting protestors’ health, and their own, at risk, furthers a core critique of these protests that police are not focused on protecting the public. Instead, they are arrogant, seeming to believe they operate above the rules. And the refusal of police to wear masks furthers the impression that the government doesn’t support mask wearing.

There are other contributing factors. Employee paid sick leave is crucial to reducing the spread of the virus, but the exemptions in in the new government guidelines exclude millions, including essential workers. Employees that are not covered by sick leave and who feel sick still need to feed their families and they will work. And they are then potential spreaders of the virus.

By any measure, that is stupid. Give everyone paid sick leave or the virus will spread even faster. It’s like a large part of the country is wearing a mask over their eyes and ears instead of over their nose and mouth.

A new “wave” of the virus is coming, and in places is already here. Do not expect leadership from the federal government. They have clearly given up.  We are, as in so many things, on our own.

In order to prevent the worst case scenario that some are predicting of a virus that gets completely out of control and shuts the country down again, the next “nightmare” scenario that Dr. Fauci fears will happen, we must act as individuals, and pressure our local and state governments to act as well.

Americans have been just great at achieving herd stupidity. Let’s change that and achieve herd intelligence.

Wear your mask. Socially distance. Write your governor and demand that wearing masks in public be made mandatory.

Then, stay alive until November (and much longer than that!) and vote!





1 thought on “Achieving Herd Stupidity

  1. It was good to hear your comments for the Conference. I am concerned about the fascist trends by the administration and many members of his party. Mitt Romney should be a beacon of light for them but he is vilified for his courage and decency. Thank you.


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