Rule one in a pandemic: don’t do anything really stupid. To verify.
But this rule is violated more often than mask warrants. Case in point: As Jackson County decided to shut down tiny Rae’s cafe in Blue Springs for blatantly violating the County Mask Order, nearly 75,000 screaming Kansas City Chiefs fans filled GEHA Field at the Arrowhead Stadium for the team’s opener last Sunday.
A little incongruous, perhaps?
Yeah, I know it’s safer outside. And as a lifelong Chiefs fan, I love seeing the fans again. But maybe Rae needs to upgrade to stadium and increase his capacity?
I normally admire a spirit of challenge, but not so much during a deadly pandemic: I’m just not going to have the coffee. And you have to admit it’s cynical fiction that Rae’s has become an exempt “private club” by charging $ 1 at the door in order to avoid the public trust. Coffee is wrong to defy the law, and the county is right to apply it.
But let’s be honest. The people in Arrowhead were side by side, back and forth, screaming at the top of their lungs. Do you think Rae’s diners were in more danger from the COVID-19 delta variant? Talk about a fractured fairy tale.
Many people have pointed out the hypocrisy on social media, but mostly in defense of coffee. This is where we go our separate ways. As an observer noted on Twitter, it is right to apply the obligatory mask in a restaurant. Doing it right next to an intimate, noisy gathering of 75,000 of your closest friends is what’s unfair.
Yes, it is more than a little incongruous. But being unequal and unfair is one of the ways we broke Pandemic Rule # 1 so as not to be stupid.
We all know that across the continent, especially in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, mom-and-pop stores were closed by state and local closings while many big box stores remained open. You don’t get much more unfair or incongruous.
Meanwhile, many elected leaders across the country were caught violating the very restrictions they enthusiastically (and imperiously) imposed.
The behavior of doing what I say, not what I do among leaders has gotten so bad that the Heritage Foundation has created a COVID hypocrisy tracker – chronicling, so far, 82 incidents in which leaders were deer in the headlights caught in the act of trampling their own words.
One of the most famous, of course, is Governor of California Gavin Newsom, who was rightly savage after attending a lavish lobbyist’s birthday party despite restrictions last November at Tony French Laundry restaurant. The duplicity helped fuel the failed recall effort against him.
Oddly enough, the deaf San Francisco Mayor London Breed attended a party at the French Laundry the following evening. And last Wednesday, a headline said, the mayor without a mask “came down with legendary Bay Area musicians at the indoor jazz club. No word if Marie-Antoinette was seen on the dance floor.
Just hours after voting to ban such a thing, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was spotted eating out in Santa Monica. The mayor of San José, Sam Liccardo enjoyed a family Thanksgiving, which is good, but included people from five households. Such gatherings were then limited to people from three different households. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock advised citizens to “Skip the potatoes, not COVID.” … Avoid travel. He then went to Mississippi for an old-fashioned family Thanksgiving.
In the midst of a deep frost and power outages last February, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, flew to Cancun – after mocking Austin Mayor Steve Adler for recording a stay-at-home message to voters in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
To a much lesser extent, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas was embarrassed, and then regretted, that his “politeness undermined our important public health message” when he posed for a photo in a group of Unmasked admirers at Lake of the Ozarks in the summer of 2020. You know what? I think he was just polite. But see pandemic rule # 1.
Does all of this mean that a local restaurant should be allowed to violate Jackson County’s mask mandate just because Arrowhead was open for business at near capacity? Of course not.
But it looks and it’s stupid. And that doesn’t help the credibility of COVID precautions.