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WaPo columnist wants the return of ‘masking for the common good’

Vaxxed and boosted Washington Post columnist Kate Cohen lamented the end of COVID-19 mask mandates on Wednesday, writing that Americans celebrating this “just don’t care” about the “common good.”

Cohen began her column by criticizing the happy, maskless travelers in the viral videos following U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling to end the travel mask mandate. She described one where passengers were cheered on to remove their masks by flight attendants “chanting over the public address system, ‘Wave ’em in the air like you just don’t care.’”

“’Just don’t care’ seemed an apt description of the way their neighbors were behaving — the way Americans are behaving in general,” she complained.

FILE - Travelers walk through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday, April 1, 2022 in Seattle. On Monday, April 18, 2022, a federal judge in Florida voided the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation saying it exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

FILE – Travelers walk through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday, April 1, 2022 in Seattle. On Monday, April 18, 2022, a federal judge in Florida voided the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation saying it exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

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Cohen criticized her own paper for not having the right perspective on the masking issue, even though The Post encouraged wearing face masks while traveling, post-mandate lifting:

“The Post advised, ‘Anyone concerned about getting infected with the coronavirus should still wear a face covering,’ and quoted a professor of infectious diseases who said he would continue to wear an N95 mask: ‘No question. You have no idea who’s on a plane.’”

Cohen said their responses “imply that the only person to consider is oneself.” 

Continuing, she said, “Imagine if The Post had advised, ‘Anyone concerned about infecting others … should still wear a face covering,’” providing the advice she thinks the paper should have imparted.

She blamed the success of “the right wing” framing the concept of “personal liberty” and others thinking of “masking in terms of personal risk.”

“[W]e’re thinking of masking as something we do for ourselves, rather than as something we do for the common good,” she complained.

Protestors opposed to Covid-19 vaccine mandates and vaccine passports by the government rally at City Hall in New York City on August 25, 2021.  (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Protestors opposed to Covid-19 vaccine mandates and vaccine passports by the government rally at City Hall in New York City on August 25, 2021.  (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

She wistfully remembered the early days of the pandemic, pointing to the “noble lie” on masks as a good example: “The common good was why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first told us not to wear masks — out of fear that first responders wouldn’t have enough.”

The author then praised The New York Times for almost getting it right. “I briefly cheered when I read, in the New York Times article … ‘It’s not just the risks and benefits to you. It’s the risks and benefits to the people around you.’” 

But she found it ultimately lacking with its quote, “One good way to frame the issue is to ask: Who is the most vulnerable person in your immediate circle?” She rejected that as “really just me again, but bigger.” 

Instead, she wanted the question to be “What if the passengers on my flight include babies or cancer patients or octogenarians who’ve been duped by conspiracy theorists into forgoing the vaccine?”

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A healthcare worker administers a booster dose of a COVID 19 vaccine at a temporary vaccine center in Guatemala City, Tuesday , March 1, 2022. Health authorities in Guatemala say over a million doses of the Russian Sputnik coronavirus vaccine have expired, because nobody wanted to take the shot. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A healthcare worker administers a booster dose of a COVID 19 vaccine at a temporary vaccine center in Guatemala City, Tuesday , March 1, 2022. Health authorities in Guatemala say over a million doses of the Russian Sputnik coronavirus vaccine have expired, because nobody wanted to take the shot. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

She even complained about her local health department’s advice after she alerted them to her own COVID diagnosis: “I reported my case to the county and took to my bedroom. Three days later… I received a call from the health department officially releasing me from quarantine.” 

“’But I’m still coughing!’ I said to the staffer,” she protested. “’I’m still testing positive!’”

Cohen explained she got the go ahead to get her quarantine “officially extended.” Keep in mind she admitted she had been “vaccinated and boosted” by that point and could have easily self-quarantined as long as she wanted. 

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She then voiced one more concern about the government health official. “When I told the health official who released me from quarantine that I was worried about my potential to infect others, she sighed and said, ‘Use your conscience.’”

“I wish I didn’t have to. But without a mandate to make us act out of concern for others, conscience is all we’ve got,” concluded Cohen.

Gabriel Hays is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @gabrieljhays.

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