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American Opinion: Americans must learn from a fading COVID crisis

Summary: Americans have experienced the destructive cost and the inequity of lockdowns, for example. They have witnessed small businesses lost forever because the state forced them to close, while allowing big chains to stay open. ... They have also witnessed the dangerous limitations of the creed of go-it-alone individualism. ... The government — and the people themselves — made many mistakes that need to be acknowledged, and not repeated, when the next pandemic hits.

People walk through Sky Harbor International Airport on Dec. 18, 2021, in Phoenix.
People walk through Sky Harbor International Airport on Dec. 18, 2021, in Phoenix.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images/TNS
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The pandemic is almost over — we think. Not as a medical fact. COVID-19 will be around forever, just like the cold and the flu, but it no longer dominates our daily lives and politics. The Democrats’ mild reaction to last week's court decision against mask mandates are among the many signs the American people are moving on.

On April 18, a judge in a federal district court ruled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lacked the authority to impose its travel mask mandate, which covers planes, trains and mass transit. Most airlines dropped their requirements immediately. So did some government agencies, including Amtrak. In Pittsburgh, the Port Authority announced the end of masking only a few hours after the decision.

American Opinion
American Opinion


Some commentators squawked, but significantly, the Biden administration wavered. Even after announcing, after a multiday delay, that the Justice Department would appeal the ruling, the administration has thus far declined to seek a stay of the district court decision, which would bring back the mandate immediately. It’s clear Biden’s team does not want to resurrect it.

Some of that is politics. Democratic candidates don’t want to run against Republicans who can exploit voters’ mask-fatigue. That would not only rouse the Republican base, but also appeal to many centrist voters who feel enough is enough. These are voters Democrats need.

The development of vaccines and other medical treatments, and the ability of people to calculate risks to protect themselves and other, also have undermined COVID-19’s dominance in our public life.

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So does the American people’s craving for normality. An Axios/Ipsos poll released this month showed only 1 in 11 Americans still believes COVID-19 is a “serious crisis.” Almost twice as many don’t think it’s a problem. Three of 4 Americans believe COVID-19 remains a problem, but one the nation can manage. More and more Americans are starting to live as they did before COVID-19.

Barring a new and very dangerous variant, the pandemic is no longer an overriding crisis. This gives us time to think about the ways we we can protect the public against disease without weakening or even destroying crucial aspects of American life. Americans have experienced the destructive cost and the inequity of lockdowns, for example. They have witnessed small businesses lost forever because the state forced them to close, while allowing big chains to stay open.

They have also witnessed the dangerous limitations of the creed of go-it-alone individualism.

The government — and the people themselves — made many mistakes that need to be acknowledged, and not repeated, when the next pandemic hits.

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

©2022 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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