COVID-19 hysteria has become the order of the day as the (less lethal) omicron variant continues to spread. This leads to ridiculous proposals on how to “stop the spread,” and Kurt Streeter of the New York Times has one of the more ridiculous ones.
Streeter is urging sports leagues to “take a vacation” until “transmission is back in hand.” Saying that it is “foolishness” for sports to continue as normal, Streeter writes, “It’s time to press pause on games, matches and meets. If we’re genuinely interested in public health, genuinely invested in slowing the virus and saving lives, we need to look at the storm that has gathered and take shelter from it.”
Streeter decries that “it’s been 20 months and most everyone has relaxed their vigilance.” The omicron variant, which all available evidence indicates is less lethal than previous variants, “adds another layer of danger.” It was foolish for sports leagues to dial back testing for fully vaccinated players, he insists. We need proof of vaccination, daily testing, and mandatory masking. You should not relax. You should be worried. A “wildfire is bearing down.”
This is delusional safetyism. COVID-19, by all indications, is never going to go away. We should be planning on this virus sticking around for the foreseeable future. The only way to keep people truly safe, using Streeter’s logic, would be a permanent end to sports, or at least an end to fan attendance.
Streeter’s risk assessment is incredibly warped. Over 95% of athletes in major sports are fully vaccinated, meaning they have very little to fear from the virus. The vast majority of athletes were not at risk from the virus before the vaccine, considering their age and health profiles. Now? They’re almost certainly facing the equivalent of the flu at worst.
There have been no major instances of fan attendance at sporting events leading to mass transmission of the virus. Again, even if we assume that the omicron variant is so transmissible that this changes, it is still less lethal, and vaccines are readily available and (along with natural immunity from previous infections) reduce the risks of serious cases even more.
Fearmongering over COVID-19 is not new for Streeter. In January, Streeter wrote that the real champion of the college football season was the University of Connecticut, which didn’t play the 2020 season. Despite the fact that there were no COVID-19 deaths among college football players who played in 2020, this was “leading the sport toward sanity.”
It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. Streeter and other panic pundits are demanding permanent alterations to daily life. Sports leagues are more than 95% vaccinated, but no level of vaccination can sate them. The panic brigades must be pushed back on before they build more momentum for a return to lockdowns and restrictions.