Yes, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards is stuck on stupid. And add prone to hypocritical partisan virtue-signaling as well.
Monday, Edwards reimposed a statewide indoor face covering mandate. He gave the reason as Wuhan coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations climbing to levels rivalling the highest of the pandemic, back at the beginning of the year.
This he did despite the science saying that mask mandates don’t do much to cut down on the infection rate. This occurs through a combination of inherent masking problems, people ignoring these, not enforcing these, and individuals not using masks properly.
The most breathtakingly stupid part of the order is that it applies to all but the youngest children, even though the chances of someone under 18 dying from the virus is 3.2 times smaller than the chance of getting killed by a lightning strike during a normal lifespan. If worried about transmission from children to adults in schools – even though the rate of transmission in schools is a third of that in the community – then only adults voluntarily should wear masks or practice other forms of nonpharmaceutical intervention. Worst of all, mandatory masking of children causes a host of negative social and psychological consequences.
Hypocrisy enters the picture as if Edwards really wanted to induce reduction in transmission, he would have gone back to the economic lockdowns, because these do significantly cut down on virus spread. Unfortunately, the one thing these don’t do is cut down on deaths, because the data show the more stringent the restrictions, the more deaths occur for reasons related to reducing social and economic relations, to the point these can outstrip lives presumably saved by stifling transmission.
And in the current crisis, daily virus deaths haven’t much increased, remaining far below the earlier peaks. This is because vaccinations have left a susceptible population significantly healthier. Finally, because of this relatively smaller population at risk, as has happened in other countries enduring the latest surge this should last briefly, mooting in short order the rather minor contribution masking would add – and especially since Edwards’ order would not take effect until mid-week.
To a point Edwards finally probably understands that to go any further than a largely-inconsequential indoor masking mandate (at least he finally gets that outdoor transmission is close to impossible) not only risks ratcheting up the number of excess deaths caused by his previous lockdown policies that lasted about a year but also would cause such a negative political reaction that it might move the Legislature to call a special session to erase the entire public emergency declaration (unfortunately, Edwards vetoed a bill this year that could have strengthened this check on abuse his powers, and the Legislature didn’t take up an override of that during its recent veto session). Ultimately, that reduces this reimposition to nothing more than political theater but which has the effect of violating human dignity.
But as a loyal Democrat, he needs that substance-less symbolism in place. A selling point that barely pushed Democrat Pres. Joe Biden across the finish line to election was he would stamp out the pandemic. Yet now it’s as bad as when Biden took office and he and his party are paying the price in public opinion polling. Thus, Edwards needs to appear he’s doing something to help out the political fortunes of his gang.
Even if it does nothing and harms children. Despite this, at least credit Edwards with a foolish consistency throughout the pandemic of putting politics before science.