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In surveys, Democrats express more worry about the pandemic than Republicans do. Last year, when the pandemic was raging and scientists and public-health officials were still trying to understand how the virus spread, extreme care was warranted. People all over the country made enormous sacrifices—rescheduling weddings, missing funerals, canceling graduations, avoiding the family members they love—to protect others.

Some conservatives refused to wear masks or stay home, because of skepticism about the severity of the disease or a refusal to give up their freedoms. But this is a different story, about progressives who stressed the scientific evidence, and then veered away from it. For many progressives, extreme vigilance was in part about opposing Donald Trump.

Some of this reaction was born of deeply felt frustration with how he handled the pandemic. It could also be knee-jerk. The spring of is different from the spring of , though. Public-health advice is shifting. But some progressives have not updated their behavior based on the new information.

And in their eagerness to protect themselves and others, they may be underestimating other costs. The marginal gains of staying shut down might not justify the potential backlash. Read: Overcaution carries its own danger to children. E ven as the very effective COVID vaccines have become widely accessible, many progressives continue to listen to voices preaching caution over relaxation. Leaders in Brookline, Massachusetts, decided this week to keep a local outdoor mask mandate in place, even though the CDC recently relaxed its guidance for outdoor mask use.

And scolding is still a popular pastime. Scientists, academics, and writers who have argued that some very low-risk activities are worth doing as vaccination rates rise—even if the risk of exposure is not zero—have faced intense backlash. Sure, some mean people spend their time chiding others online. But for many, remaining guarded even as the country opens back up is an earnest expression of civic values. Goldstein and his wife decided early on in the pandemic that they were going to take restrictions extremely seriously and adopt the most cautious interpretation of when it was safe to do anything.

He spends his mornings and evenings sifting through stories of people who have recently died from the coronavirus for Faces of COVID , a Twitter feed he started to memorialize deaths during the pandemic. Progressive politics focuses on fighting against everyday disasters, such as climate change and poverty, struggles that may shape how some people see the pandemic.

Some progressives believe that the pandemic has created an opening for ambitious policy proposals. Consider the experience of Somerville, Massachusetts, the kind of community where residents proudly display rainbow yard s declaring In this house … we believe science is real. In the Democratic primary, 57 percent of voters there supported Bernie Sanders, and this year the Democratic Socialists of America have a shot at taking over the city council. As towns around Somerville began going back to in-person school in the fall, Mayor Joseph Curtatone and other Somerville leaders delayed a return to in-person learning.

Months slipped by, and evidence mounted that schools could reopen safely. Everyone believes Black lives matter. Read: Are outdoor mask mandates still necessary? When they keep their kids out of playgrounds and urge friends to stay distanced at small outdoor picnics, they are continuing the spirit of the past year, when civic duty has been expressed through lonely asceticism. For many people, this kind of behavior is a form of good citizenship. He also studies disaster history. Doom, but once I have earned my Ph. His Twitter avatar is the plague doctor: a beaked, top-hat-wearing figure who traveled across European towns treating victims of the bubonic plague.

Last February, Loeb started stocking up on cans of beans; last March, he left his office, and has not been back since. This April, as the country inched toward half of the population getting a first dose of a vaccine and daily deaths dipped below 1,, his poems became melancholy. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe.

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