This week, as President Joe Biden attempted desperately to distract from his ongoing surrender in Afghanistan and the attendant chaos in its wake, the White House turned its eyes once again to the issue of COVID-19. On Monday, Biden pressed private industry to mandate vaccination, stating, “Do what I did last month, require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements.” Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “I respect people’s freedom, but when you’re talking about a public health crisis … the time has come, enough is enough. We’ve just got to get people vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration also pressed private sector vaccine mandates. Fauci announced on MSNBC that everyone should mask, vaccinated or unvaccinated: “Instead of worrying what kind of mask, just wear a mask. Wear a surgical mask, a cloth mask … We need to wear masks.” Biden went further, extending his push for masks to small children: “You have the tools to keep your child safer … make sure that your child is masked when they leave home.”
Put aside the fact that the data support none of these policy prescriptions: There is little evidence that vaccine mandates will push the unvaccinated into overcoming their hesitancy; vaccine mandates are likely to press the unvaccinated into common spaces in which they are more likely to transmit the virus to other unvaccinated people, who are in far more danger than the vaccinated; the delta variant, according to former Obama advisor Dr. Michael Osterholm, makes a mockery of cloth masks; according to the University of Waterloo, surgical masks are essentially ineffective against delta; there is literally zero data demonstrating that masking children in schools has been effective in reducing transmission of the coronavirus; and children are at exorbitantly low risk from the virus, given that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 361 Americans under age 18 have died of COVID-19 during the entirety of the pandemic.
Instead, focus on a simple fact: our pandemic is now officially endless.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we were told to accept lockdown measures in order to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed — to flatten the curve. We did so. Then we were told to mask up to prevent transmission of the virus while we developed a vaccine. We did so. Then we were told to wait to unmask and gather in large numbers until after every adult had the opportunity to be vaccinated. We did so.
Now, every adult in America — every person over age 12 — has had the ability to get vaccinated. Well over 75% of all Americans aged over 65 have been double-vaccinated. A majority of people in the United States have been double-vaccinated. And yet we are still told that mask mandates are necessary — presumably to prevent those who have already had the opportunity to be vaccinated from contracting COVID-19, since the vaccinated are at extremely low risk of hospitalization and death even if a breakthrough infection occurs.
How can this be justified?
On simple logical grounds, it can’t. The government has now done all it can to provide protection to those who want it; those who demand government restrictions have provided no metric for success by which proposed restrictions end and we all go back to normal life.
Is it deaths? Obviously not: Hawaii has an indoor mask mandate for everyone, despite a seven-day rolling average of two deaths per day and a population of 1.4 million. Is it hospitalizations? No: Australia is in a state of complete lockdown, despite a grand total of 119 people in the ICU in a country of 25 million people and with baseline ICU bed capacity of at least 2,378. Is it infections? We have no standard by which infectivity level is low enough to go back to normal: Schoolkids are being told to mask despite no evidence that children are at serious risk or are a main vector of transmission.
Which means that zero COVID-19 has become the goal.
And that’s not a goal, that’s a pipe dream.
But that pipe dream means we are stuck in pandemic mindset permanently. There is literally no goal post. Which means that Americans have a choice: either we can choose to live under restrictions forever to prevent a minute risk of post-vaccination hospitalization and death, or we can go back to normal. If we choose to give up our freedom for the chimera that government can end risk entirely, we deserve none of the freedoms we supposedly cherish.
Ben Shapiro, 37, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.