Since March of 2020, masks have been part of our everyday lives. It’s almost like another limb or body part by now. If I leave my home without it, I get the feeling that I am missing something.
On September 8th, the NYC MTA announced the new policy on masking entitled “You Do You“. Essentially, it is a personal choice as to whether or not to put on the mask when on the bus or the train.
I understand why the decision was made. As time has gone on, many of us have gotten tired of the preventative measures that we took seriously just a short time ago. It has become harder to Let’s be honest, masks can be uncomfortable and a pain in the ass, especially if you wear glasses.
However, we also know that the virus is still with us. Too many are getting sick and dying from the disease. Even though we know that the vaccine is safe and more importantly, saves lives, many Americans still refuse to get the shot.
For the time being, I will continue to wear my mask. Not just for me, but for everyone else around me.
When Covid-19 came onto our shores more than two years ago, we all expected that it would be a short-lived experience. We would return to our normal lives within days or weeks as if nothing had happened.
During a talkback after a performance of the Broadway musicalCompany, star Patti LuPone yelled at audience members who were not wearing masks. The video of this incident quickly went viral.
I’m not a huge fan of hers, but props to LuPone for saying what we are all thinking. Anyone entering a Broadway theater as an audience member must be masked. As of now, this rule is in place until the end of the month.
What we have to remember as audience members is that while this is entertainment for us, this is a job. If there is another shutdown, no one involved in the production gets paid. Over the last two years, I have become acutely aware that while I had the luxury of working from home. There are still and were many people who did not have that option. Wearing the mask is about respect not just for ourselves, but for the people around us.
I know that we are all tired of masks and the hoops we have to jump through just to get out of the house. But until this disease is either conquered or toned down to the point of non-existence, this is what we have to do to stay alive.
Covid-19 has been part of our lives for more than two years. Since March of 2020, we have become accustomed to wearing masks, minimizing socializing, leaving our homes, and making sure that we get our vaccines.
I know that we are all sick of this virus. With the warmer weather on the horizon, the urge to fling off all Covid-related restrictions and just pretend as if the last two-plus years have not happened. But my gut tells me that we cannot. Though the vaccines have allowed us to relax, we must remain ever vigilant. The chances of another wave is not out of the question. Until this virus has completely disappeared, the need for keeping the emergency light on will continue.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am so tired of Covid-19. I want to take off the mask, throw open the doors, and live life to the fullest.
With Omicron numbers declining, a number of local and federal officials across the United States have announced that mask mandates will either be downgraded or removed completely. In New York State, the mask or vaccinate requirement for indoor businesses will expire on Thursday, February 17th.
For now, the masks must be worn while in schools, child care programs, medical facilities (nursing homes included), and while riding on public transportation. The removal of masks while attending class is pending the numbers after the upcoming winter break. In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced that individual business owners can decide for themselves if masks are still needed to enter the premises.
I have mixed feelings about this. To be perfectly honest, this piece of cloth that is supposed to keep us alive is a pain in the behind. We have to make sure that we have one on us when we leave the house, we have to make sure it fits properly, etc. As someone with glasses, I stopped counting the number of times that the lenses have fogged up.
But, at the same time, we know enough about this virus to understand that it is not done with us. It may be just a matter of time before we get hit by the next wave or variant. I think the best way to describe this moment is to be cautiously optimistic. For now, we can take a breath. But the question I feel we have to ask is how long will that breath last?
P.S.: Randy Rainbow’s new video, THE TANGO: VACCINE – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody is right on target as usual. Based on the song Tango Maureen from the musical Rent, it’s the release we all need right now.
The United States has always been a land of division. But even with that differences, we have found something to make bridge those divides.
Today is the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Like 9/11 sixty years later, it was a moment in time in which all Americans, regardless of labels or identity, were one.
These days, the cracks are the deepest it has been in generations. We are on the verge, if things go a certain way, of being the former United States of America. Between that and Covid-19, this nation may go down in history as the modern democratic experiment that failed. We know what we need to do to kick this virus to the curb and return to normalcy. We need to get vaccinated, wear our masks, wash our hands, and social distance when necessary.
It’s not rocket science. But there are some in this country who are either too proud, too foolish, or too stupid to realize this. If and when America goes down Hindenburg style, the blame will be on those who were unwilling to take the most simple of steps to prevent our downfall.
If there is one thing that defines the United States, it is that our freedom is everything to us. Our founding documents make freedom part and parcel of everything that this nation is built on. But it comes with a cost.
“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children.”
Governor Abbott has chosen to not only refuse to implement statewide standards, but he is preventing local officials from doing the same.
“Going forward, in Texas, there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates,” Abbott said. “Everyone already knows what to do.”
I will not and cannot deny that parents have the right to make the healthcare decisions for their children. However, school has started or will start soon (depending on where you live). The delta variant has proven to be more deadly than the initial version of the virus. According to a NY Times article on July 20th, 83% of new cases are due to the variant. We also have to take into account that children ages 0-12 are still not eligible for the vaccine, opening the door to an unknown number of new cases in both children and adults.
Freedom is important. But it cannot help you if you are lying comatose on a hospital bed. Nor does it mean anything if you are with your maker because you were too foolish to take a simple life saving shot.
“Hate” is a word with a mixed meaning. It can be as benign as stating that you hate a certain type of food or color. Or, it can be as malicious as saying that you hate a certain group of people. We all know where this second statement can lead to.
In Lebanon, its been a year since explosion in Beirut. Instead of addressing the crisis that immediately followed the blast and healing the damage that it created, the neglect of those in power has added to the misery of the ordinary citizen. Both the government and the economy are collapsing. One might think that logic would come into play, but it hasn’t. The geniuses who lead this nation thought that the best use of their dwindling resources was to fire rockets at Israel.
If anyone can explain to me how this makes sense, I would love to hear it.
Earlier this summer, we started to believe that Covid-19 was starting to fade into history. Then the delta variant hit and the number of cases started to rise again. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has chosen to pretend that the virus is ancient history. He has removed all mask mandates, threatened to withhold funding to school districts that require masking, and is more concerned with his re-election campaign than the welfare of the people who reside within the state. He has also blamed immigrants for the increase in hospitalizations instead of looking to the fools who still refuse to get vaccinated. Covid does not care if you were born in this country or if you emigrated from another nation.
Blaming immigrants (or any minority group for that matter) has unfortunately been part of the human experience. The problem is that we never learn that this is belief is nothing but a myth. It is an easy way out instead of facing the issues that hold us back.
I know that we will never be able to answer this question, but when will we learn that hate is nothing more than a waste of time?
For the last 14 months, we have reminded constantly that the most effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we should be wearing masks when we are outside of our homes.
As of this week, the CDC has announced that for the most part, those who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear or practice social distancing.
While this is great news, it is also confusing. The confusion comes from the fact that many states, cities, and locales still require residents and visitors to wear masks when inside, regardless of vaccination status. In New York State and New York City for example, masks are still legally required when entering a place of business.
As of a week from this coming Monday, I will be fully vaccinated plus two weeks. But that does not mean that I will leave the mask at home.
Two important questions come up that must be answered:
How do we deal with the rise in fake vaccination cards? Will store managers and owners be able to determine what is real and what is not real?
If the local and state laws repeal the mask requirement, will businesses still ask for proof of vaccination? Not every customer may respond well when asked to show their card.
From the larger perspective, this is the news we have been waiting for for many months. But, before we can celebrate, the details must be ironed out.
If we have learned nothing else about Covid-19 since March, it is that the virus neither knows or cares about the labels and boundaries that human beings have created.
In New York City, there are about a dozen zip codes in both Brooklyn and Queens in which there is a rise in Covid-19 cases. Most of these neighborhoods have a large population of Orthodox Jews. Some have claimed that the city’s response is anti-Semitic.
My personal reaction is the claim is mixed. If I felt it was truly anti-Semitic response, I would be direct in saying so. But it is not antisemitism, it is common sense. If anything, their reactions only amplify the anti-Semitic lies and imagery. Being learned in the text and customs of any religion does not stop this disease. Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently will stop this disease.
However, the residents of these zip codes are not completely to blame. If the news reports are true, there are not enough Yiddish speaking tracers to reach out to the community. That failure falls firmly on the shoulders of the Mayor and other officials.
The problem with Covid-19 is that common sense and logic are replaced by fear and anxiety. While those responses are normal, given the circumstances, they will not help us in the long run. We need a clear head and a well constructed plan if we are able to return to some sense of normalcy.
As indestructible as human beings believe we are, Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that she will always be one step ahead of us.
Next weekend is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Covid-19 has forced Jewish instuitions to rework how to approach one of the most important days of the year.
To say that it will feel weird is an understatement. Traditional holiday services will be limited and many will turn to Zoom to participate virtually. Instead of getting together with family and friends, social distancing and wearing masks will continue to be the norm.
To those who celebrate, wherever you are and whatever you do, have a sweet and Happy New Year.