Two weeks to slow the spread.
That was the original rationale for the lockdowns, masking and social distancing: Prevent transmission of the coronavirus so that Americans could be assured that we would not overwhelm hospital capacity, causing needless death.
Wait until a vaccine is available.
That was the next goal post: an admonition to continue to take precautions to avoid spreading the coronavirus until a vaccine could be developed. Despite the warnings of COVID-19 pessimists that a vaccine would take years to develop, despite the unjustified alarmism of figures like Vice President Kamala Harris that the Trump administration would skew the vaccine protocols to achieve political ends, vaccines were miraculously developed.
Wait until every adult has a chance to get the vaccine.
That was the final rationale for caution. And as states began to tranche out vaccines by the millions, every person above the age of 12 in the United States was given the opportunity to get vaccinated. As of today, over 90% of adults over the age of 65 -- the most at-risk population in the United States -- have been vaccinated, and more than 70% of all Americans over age 18 have been vaccinated as well.
We are told that we are experiencing a massive COVID-19 crisis. We have been told that the vaccinated must mask up again; that the unvaccinated should be barred from public establishments; that children must be masked in school. We have been told that America faces doom and death on a daily basis and that we're seeing a crisis akin to the last wave of the coronavirus in January. We're masking up and checking vaccine cards in Washington, D.C., in San Francisco, in Los Angeles, in New York.
The statistics simply do not bear this out. According to the seven-day rolling average as calculated by The New York Times, fewer than 400 Americans per day are dying of COVID-19; at the height of the pandemic, well over 3,000 were. In Washington, D.C. (total population: 692,000), that number is 0; in San Francisco County (total population: 875,000), that number is 0; in Los Angeles County (total population: 10 million), that number is 9; in New York City (total population: 8.4 million), that number is 3.
The current delta variant spike has resulted in a massive case count, particularly in Florida, but deaths are not following cases -- and if the United States follows the pattern of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, we're likely to see the case count begin to crater in the next few weeks. Those who are vaccinated are not dying of COVID-19; their death rate is minuscule. Those who are unvaccinated have chosen not to vaccinate; they are independent adults capable of determining their own approach to risk and reward.
All of which requires us to ask the question: When are we done?
When are we done telling children to mask up to protect adults who don't want to vaccinate? When are we done telling businesses to close up or bar customers based on vaccination status? When are we done with mask mandates (data suggests that mask mandates are ineffective, even if masking is sometimes useful), with evidence-free social distancing rules (six feet is pure conjecture), with the ever-vacillating, Delphic pronouncements of Dr. Anthony Fauci? We have hit the goal posts; every adult now has the capacity to protect himself. There are no other realistic goal posts: Zero COVID-19 cases was never a realistic goal.
When is the job of government done?
Our public health "experts" continue to promote more and more outrageous restrictions. This week, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins went so far as to recommend that vaccinated parents mask up in their own homes around their own children. There is no limiting principle to this, no end goal. There is only a bureaucratic and political elite unwilling to treat citizens as adults, recognize their own limitations and leave us all alone.
And if we accept that, we deserve nothing less than subjection to their paternalistic control.
Ben Shapiro is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work appears regularly in the Grand Forks Herald.