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The Paranoid Style in Covid-19 America

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The Paranoid Style in Covid-19 America

Spectator USA April 27, 2020
OtherCulture & Society

The public health establishment is desperate to maintain hysteria in the populace

To grasp the urgency of lifting the ubiquitous economic shutdowns, visit New York City’s Central Park, ideally in the morning. At 5:45 am, it is occupied by maybe 100 runners and cyclists, spread over 843 acres. A large portion of these early-bird exercisers wear masks. Are they trying to protect anyone they might encounter from their own unsuspected coronavirus infection? Perhaps. But if you yourself run towards an oncoming runner on a vector that will keep you at least three yards away when you pass each other, he is likely to lunge sideways in terror if your face is not covered. The masked cyclists, who speed around the park’s inner road, apparently think that 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 to sicken them.

These are delusional beliefs, yet they demonstrate the degree of paranoia that has infected the population. Every day the lockdown continues, its implicit message that we are all going to die if we engage in normal life is reinforced. Polls show an increasing number of Americans opting to continue the economic quarantine indefinitely lest they be ‘unsafe’. The longer that belief is reinforced, the less likely it will be that consumers will patronize reopened restaurants or board airplanes in sufficient numbers to bring the economy back to life.

It is 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 were not 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. Even the New York Times, one of the most aggressive purveyors of virus hysteria, could not avoid acknowledging this commonsensical truth about outdoor transmission. The director of Australia’s International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health told the paper: ‘Outdoors is safe, and there is certainly no cloud of virus-laden droplets hanging around.’ Infectious droplets would be quickly diluted in outdoor air, director Lidia Morawska said, so their concentrations would quickly become insignificant. Bottom line: ‘It is safe to go for a walk and jog and not to worry about the virus in the air.’

Continue reading the entire piece here at Spectator USA

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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. Follow her on Twitter here.

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

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