You would think that an escalating surge in COVID cases and nearly a year of constant messaging about the ugliness of coronavirus infections — not to mention the ever growing tallies of deaths — would have quieted the anti-maskers by now. But everyone who heard Trump and his cronies say it's "no deadlier than the flu" and have closed their ears to every actual fact about the virus for nine months, and who are tired of having to wear masks because they're a pain, are still finding moments to express their displeasure or personal rage.
One man at a Costco in Tustin, California, in Orange County, took a megaphone and stood up on a product display to preach his anti-science/libertarian gospel over the weekend, and it was, obviously, caught on video. Upsettingly, because this was fucking Orange County, several people went up to fist-bump him and cheer him on, while a seeming minority of people booed him and told him to shut up.
"It’s a beautiful day outside and what are we doing, covering up with our masks," he shouts. "We've got to stand up for ourselves!"
The video was picked up by CBS Los Angeles, and you can see some of it below.
COVID case counts and hospitalizations are rising rapidly across California, but somehow not everyone is getting adequately scared.
An op-ed in the New York Times last week suggested that this may be the greatest failure of public officials — not using properly horrifying images and stories to convey the dangers of this virus for people of all ages, even if it is primarily killing elderly people. Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal pointed to the intentionally horrifying anti-smoking ads she was subjected to as a teenager, and how it scared her and most of her friends away from picking up cigarettes.
"When the government required television and radio stations to give $75 million in free airtime for antismoking ads between 1967 and 1970 — many of them terrifyingly graphic — smoking rates plummeted," Dr. Rosenthal writes. "Since then, numerous 'scare' campaigns have proved successful... [One] message could feature a patient lying in an I.C.U. bed, immobile, tubes in the groin, with a mask delivering 100 percent oxygen over the mouth and nose — eyes wide with fear, watching the saturation numbers rise and dip on the monitor over the bed."
Most states have taken "nicer" approaches, Rosenthal points out, like Michigan's campaign with the tagline "Spread Hope, Not Covid." That crap is clearly not working.
Pundits have pointed out that some of Europe's success in flattening the curve at different points in this pandemic is a cultural tendency to trust in government and act collectively for the good of all — something Americans clearly lack on all fronts.
So we have idiots like the Costco guy seen above believing that this is some kind of fight for freedom — freedom to be an idiot and to get and spread the virus. Maybe all of these people need to be locked in a room and forced to watch horrifying hospital footage for an hour. But they'd probably call it fake news. Because: America.
The ICU medical director at Cedars-Sinai in L.A., Dr. Isabel Pedraza, tells CBS Los Angeles that stuff like this is just demoralizing when they're facing overflowing hospitals and dying patients every day.
"You have to sit there and listen on the news to people saying we are infringing on their constitutional rights and yeah, it’s incredibly demoralizing," Dr. Pedraza says. "I think that there isn’t anyone who does this that doesn’t feel demoralized by it. Our lives don’t matter, the patients' lives don’t matter."
She adds, "It seems like this suffering is meaningless to some people, that’s what it feels like — it doesn’t matter until it happens to them."