To grasp the urgency of lifting the shutdowns, visit Central Park. At 5:45 am, maybe 100 runners and cyclists occupy it, spread over 843 acres. A large portion of these early-bird exercisers wear masks. If you yourself run towards an oncoming runner on a vector that will keep you at least three yards away, he will lunge sideways in terror if your face isn’t covered. The masked cyclists apparently think there are enough virus particles suspended in the billions of square feet of fresh air circulating across the park to enter their mucous membranes and sicken them.
These are delusional beliefs, yet they illustrate the severity of the paranoia that has infected the population, reinforced by the lockdown itself.
An increasing number of Americans want to continue the economic quarantine indefinitely lest they be “unsafe,” according to polls, a belief whose strength will make it that much harder to restore some semblance of economic normalcy.
It’s worth briefly reviewing the facts about outdoor viral transmission in order to assess the rationality of New York’s park users. The chance of getting infected across a wide open, windswept space is virtually nil, even if the imaginary carrier weren’t moving quickly past his potential victim. When it comes to viral infections, dose matters. Proximity to the carrier, prolonged exposure and being in an enclosed space are the biggest risk factors.
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal, and the author of the bestselling War on Cops and The Diversity Delusion. This piece was adapted from Spectator USA. Follow her on Twitter here.
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