‘Life Turns Lonelier’ -- New York Times Sends Page-One Sympathy Card to Mask 'Holdouts'

December 29th, 2022 8:58 AM

The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times tried to stir sympathy for the mask-forever obsessives among the paper’s fans: “For Holdouts In Masks, Life Turns Lonelier.”

It’s pretty gutsy for the mask-obsessed Times to suggest the mask-forever bunch are feeling isolated, given the Times strongly supported lockdown measures that kept old, sick, vulnerable people isolated from their families.

Reporter Amy Harmon found a distinctly odd couple (who call themselves “Mx.” instead of Mr. or Ms., naturally) as their poster children for forever masking -- and not just any masks, either.

Bitsy Cherry had been bracing for the question ever since most of the members of a board game group that had started meeting online during the pandemic began attending in-person meetings a few months ago.

Like many of the dwindling group of Americans still taking precautions like masking indoors and limiting face-to-face interactions, Mx. Cherry, who uses gender-neutral courtesy titles and pronouns, had been fielding nudges to return to pre-Covid routines from all corners. Doctors’ offices that have dropped mask protocols encouraged Mx. Cherry to come in for a physical exam….

But when the board-game organizer finally asked this month if Mx. Cherry was ready to go back to gathering on the Cornell University campus, Mx. Cherry fumbled for an answer….

For many Americans still at pains to avoid infection with the coronavirus, this has become the loneliest moment since the pandemic began.

"The loneliest moment"? Tell that to the families of nursing home and hospital patients who died alone due to overzealous Covid restrictions. Holmes sounded annoyed that most people have resumed normal existence.

Exercise classes have largely suspended remote workouts. Families and employers have expected attendance at holiday events. The vulnerable and the risk-averse are finding themselves the rare mask-wearers on public transportation, in places of worship, and at offices and stores.

After years of angry, sometimes violent confrontations by zealous maskers against the unmasked, the Times is awfully sensitive to slight, non-violent pushback.

It is hard to avoid the feeling of being judged as histrionic, some say, even when evidence suggests they are right to be cautious. And many say they face pressure, internal and external, to adjust to changing social norms around a virus that others are treating as a thing of the past.

Holmes ignored the science which shows cotton or surgical masks are next to useless against the Omicron variant, and even bulky respirator masks can only help mitigate spread if expertly fitted.

If post-COVID period truly is as dangerous as Harmon’s cherrypicked studies imply, it’s a wonder anyone is still alive.

....When friends say they do not mind if they get Covid because it will be only a cold, Mx. Nerode sends a paper suggesting that even mild cases can result in cognitive impairment.

The article includes a truly sad photo of the couple wearing “industrial face masks” that bulge out and cover over half their faces. They still insist on a rigid menu of masks and filters for real-world interaction:

That does not mean life has to shut down, the couple said. If everyone at the board game group would commit to wearing well-fitting, high-quality masks -- they prefer elastomeric p100s -- and the group invested in a HEPA filter, Mx. Cherry says the couple could safely attend….

Frankly, socializing with them sounds like more trouble than it's worth. However, they do sound like perfect Times readers.