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Our view: COVID response requires maturity
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Our view

Our view: COVID response requires maturity

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When he wrote his book “The Vanishing American Adult,” first published in 2017, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse surely didn’t have his colleagues in the U.S. House in mind. But he well could have been describing the participants in a scene we witnessed last week.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her decision to follow new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and require masks be worn in the House, under penalty of a $500 fine, some House Republicans threw a fit. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) took to the floor and had a screaming meltdown that lasted for more than two minutes.

The Biden administration is sending out Surge Response Teams to help battle the Delta Variant.

“We gotta wear masks?” he asked. “In the people’s house? This institution is a sham! And we should adjourn and shut this place down! … We are absolutely sick and tired of it and so are the American people.”

Roy’s tantrum was followed by a mask-less march of House Republicans to the U.S. Senate side of the building, where they hoped to … accomplish what, we don’t know. Borrow some masks?

This kind of tantrum from elected officials should be embarrassing. These are grown men and women. Especially in the face of a changing pandemic that, as we write, is killing about 300 Americans a day, they should be setting an example for the rest of us — not only by enthusiastically encouraging the procedures and practices that we know reduce casualties, but by controlling their childish impulses. Their ugly fits benefit no one.

Not wearing a mask around other people is a stupid hill on which to die — especially when you can do so literally.

The CDC’s new guidance — recommending that fully vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in areas with high rates of COVID — changed because circumstances have changed. The delta variant is taking hold because too many Americans refuse to be vaccinated. That increases the risk even for vaccinated people.

An internal slide presentation from the CDC revealed last week shows that the delta variant could be as contagious as chickenpox; it spreads more easily than the common cold, the 1918 flu and smallpox. And in addition to being more contagious, it likely increases the risk of severe disease and hospitalization, compared with the original strain.

“I think people need to understand that we’re not crying wolf here. This is serious,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “It’s one of the most transmissible viruses we know about.”

The CDC also announced that fully vaccinated people with breakthrough cases may spread COVID-19 as easily as unvaccinated people.

North Carolina last week reached a five-month high in daily case counts — and the increase is still more than 90% among the unvaccinated.

Increased caution is not just justified, it’s necessary.

That shouldn’t be hard for a mature adult with a fully developed brain to understand. We may not like it, but not liking it doesn’t change it.

The Republican claim that renewed masking mandates are part of a political ploy is not well considered.

Doctors aren’t popular with children for giving shots; they’re popular for handing out lollipops.

But grown-ups know that, sometimes, you’ve got to have a shot.

Some, like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are taking legislative steps to prevent private businesses, government agencies and schools from mandating masks, even as their states’ COVID caseloads are increasing dramatically. They say they’re relying on their states’ residents to practice personal responsibility.

The problem is that so many refuse to take personal responsibility. That affects others.

Speaking of mature adults, we’re grateful for the decision of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board to require students to wear masks during the first nine weeks of school, especially after some of the parental outbursts it endured. The decision won’t make the board popular by any means. But it’s necessary. And it’s a small price to pay to prevent illness and death.

We hope we can count on our children’s parents to understand. We know that most rank-and-file conservatives are not as immature as some of their representatives. They support the science and want us to overcome this scourge as quickly as possible.

We encourage them to contact their representatives and tell them to knock off the juvenile behavior. We need leaders of character and maturity to help get us past this crisis.

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