The Atlantic condemns ‘hygiene theater’ as CDC admits spread of COVID-19 on surfaces is ‘low’
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NEW YORK, April 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The frantic anti-coronavirus sanitation of 2020 — the scrubbed down trains, the sterilized groceries — was a waste of time.
Derek Thompson, a staff writer for The Atlantic magazine, reported this month that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has finally confirmed what his sources told him last July: the COVID-19 coronavirus is spread through the air and not from surfaces.
“The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus,” the CDC announced in early April.
“It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low.”
This means that waiting a day to open our mail and spraying down our groceries was not just weird; it was pointless.
“You can put away the bleach, cancel your recurring Amazon subscription for disinfectant wipes, and stop punishing every square inch of classroom floor, restaurant table, and train seat with high-tech antimicrobial blasts,” Thompson wrote in the left-leaning magazine.
“COVID-19 is airborne: It spreads through tiny aerosolized droplets that linger in the air in unventilated spaces. Touching stuff just doesn’t carry much risk, and more people should say so, very loudly.”
Interestingly, the findings of the expert who first convinced the essayist last summer to stop washing his vegetables in soap were rejected by medical journals. Fortunately, British journal The Lancet finally published Emanuel Goldman’s “Exaggerated Risk of Transmission of COVID-19 by Fomites” in August 2020. Other scientists also discovered that COVID-19 was most likely to be spread through the air and least likely to be spread by surfaces, but they were shouted down by fellow scientists, Thompson reported.
When Thompson asked Goldman how he felt to be vindicated, the Rutgers professor said he felt “great” but was wondering, “What took them so long?”
“There is so much inertia in the scientific establishment,” he added.
Goldman revealed, too, that experiments showing that respiratory viruses like COVID-19 spread through touching surfaces “stack the deck by studying unrealistically large amounts of virus using unrealistically ideal (cold, dry, and dark) conditions for their survival.”
“Based on our experience with SARS-CoV-2, these may not be trustworthy studies,” he concluded.
Nevertheless, government offices, schools, and businesses are still scrubbing away for fear that someone might pick up the virus from an unwiped surface. Most Catholic dioceses in the United States have banned the use of hymnals. Some businesses are still refusing cash. And, bizarrely, this is sometimes done at the expense of measures that will work: reminders of the importance of ventilation, air filters, and “keeping windows open,” Thompson observed.
Thompson, who coined the phrase “hygiene theater” in his wake-up call last July, says that the practice is not a “victimless crime.” For example, “cash-strapped” municipal transport companies and school boards are wasting “hundreds of millions of dollars” on excess cleaning products.
“Hygiene theater also muddles the public-health message,” he added.
“If you tell people, ‘This disease is on surfaces, on your clothes, on your hands, on your face, and also in the air,’ they will react in a scattered and scared way. But if you tell people the truth — this virus doesn’t do very well on surfaces, so you should focus on ventilation — they can protect themselves against what matter.”
Thompson criticized the COVID-19 strategies of American institutions and civic leaders — Republican and Democrat — which were not based in the latest discoveries but “etched the conventional wisdoms of March 2020 into stone and clutched their stone-tablet commandments in the face of any evidence that would disprove them.”
Unfortunately, this attitude toward lack of evidence goes well beyond the United States. In Italy, for example, mask mandates have extended to the wearing of masks outdoors, and some members of the terrified populace wear them even when driving in their cars, alone.
Today, The Atlantic published an article by Thompson decrying such outdoor mask mandates and also the bizarre phenomenon of people walking into restaurants wearing masks but taking them off while in close proximity to others indoors. The essayist noticed this at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.
“I felt like I was watching people put on their seatbelts in parked cars, then unbuckle them just as they put the vehicle in drive,” he wrote.
Although Thompson remains a firm believer in indoor masking, he — and the experts he consults — believes outdoor masking is pointless. The “anxiety” and “public shame” about daring to show our faces in public should end.
“We can learn to look at a well-populated beach and not see a gross failure of human morality," he wrote.
“We can see somebody unmasked in a park and not think, I guess that one doesn’t believe in science,” he continued.
“We can walk down an uncrowded street with a mask, or without a mask, or with a mask sort of hanging from our chin, and just not really worry about it. We can reduce unnecessary private anxiety and unhelpful public shame by thinking for a few seconds about how the coronavirus actually works and how to finally end the pandemic. Let’s tell people the truth and trust that they can take it. Let’s plan for the end of outdoor mask mandates.”