COVID Counterpunch

Fear & Virtue Signaling: Why The Vaxxed Are Still Masked

Photo by Norma Mortenson

The bare-faced brigade was three strong in a sea of masks. Me, an old guy getting limes and vodka, and a proud 20-something in a “Don’t Tread On Me” T-shirt.

Walking around Wal-mart after New Mexico’s governor adopted the CDC’s new guidelines for masking, you have to wonder whether 52% of adults are fully vaccinated, as the governor alleges.

So few were our numbers that we noticed each other immediately, everybody else noticed us immediately, and everybody noticing us noticed each other noticing us.

Masked or unmasked, we were all asking ourselves, if for different reasons, What is wrong with people?

Figuring out what’s going on requires a fair bit of speculation.

Assuming the state vaccination statistics are accurate, assuming the vaccines work, and assuming the 52% of New Mexicans who got jabbed believe vaccines work (because why else be a guinea pig for a Big Pharma emergency-use-only experiment if they didn’t believe it), and assuming not every person in that store has a 94-year-old immuno-compromised loved one at home whose life depends on maximum caution, how is it possible that three men out of 300 people were unmasked?

KRQE investigated the phenomenon. Interviewing people at stores around town, the Albuquerque news station found that most people were vaccinated but kept their masks on because “they don’t trust the honor system, having to believe whether people are actually vaccinated.”

There are two possible explanations for this behavior: fear and virtue signaling.

It’s hard to virtue signal without wearing a mask. Scroll any social media platform and you’ll be inundated with do-gooders with vaccination selfies and extensive mask collections. 

The comments sections of every article on the CDC’s relaxed mask regulations are full of self-congratulatory vaxxers boasting of their selfless plans to wear a mask despite the new rules. 

The same people who spent the better part of a year wagging their fingers chanting “follow the science” suddenly, and without irony, aren’t following the science. 

Nationally, only 5% of COVID-19 deaths were the result of COVID alone. Ninety-five percent of fatalities involved an average of 3.7 co-morbidities, meaning that while they tested positive for COVID, they had four other diseases or medical conditions contributing to their death.

That is baffling, and a bit confusing, because the narrative nationally and statewide seems purposefully convoluted. To clarify: New Mexico has tallied 4,115 COVID deaths in 16 months. But that’s not people who “died of COVID.” That’s people who died with COVID.

The failure of the government and media to explain the difference is probably the biggest factor of people’s fear of the virus.

If New Mexico follows the national trend, only about 200 of the 4,115 deaths in the state since February 2020 were solely the result of COVID-19. That’s half the state’s 2019 traffic fatality rate.

You can’t make it a city block without seeing someone driving alone in their car wearing a mask.

If the science really matters, why aren’t people wearing helmets while driving?

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