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Tags: Coronavirus | covid | fear

Fear and Loafing in the Land of COVID

a photo of a woman wearing a mask looking scared next to a man in a field with his mask removed
There's fear and freedom in regard to COVID, depending on what part of the country you are in. (Dreamstime photos)

Dennis Kneale By Tuesday, 09 November 2021 12:04 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We live in a lopsided world gone COVID Crazy, so divided we can’t even agree on how fearful we should be of the virus that China gave us.

In Florida the fear is all but absent, and masks are passé and almost cringe-worthy, as I learned in a trip down to the Keys a few months ago. Yet COVID fear is palpable across California, as my recent visit to Silicon Valley showed.

Oddly, a main reason for this divergence is political identity. California is hopelessly and fecklessly Democrat. Florida is a Republican-leaning state — the total number of registered Republican voters just exceeded that of Democrats for the first time in Florida’s history.

Even people in liberal climes, however, may be tiring of the COVID crisis. Cut to Manhattan, one of the most unabashedly lefty locales anywhere in the world.

The city has been in strict COVID crackdown mode for almost a year and a half. Even today it forces restaurants and other businesses to require their customers to wear masks or show ID and a vaccination card.

This disproportionately affects Blacks because only 14.2% of Blacks in New York have received at least one COVID shot, compared with almost 65% of whites. A few weeks ago, in an odd intersection of warring interests, Black Lives Matter protesters joined MAGA protesters to picket outside Barclays Center, just a mile down the street from me in Brooklyn.

Both sides were there to support Kyrie Irving, the Nets basketball star who has been excommunicated by his team for balking at taking the jab.

A few nights later, I went to a Nets home game (they played sans Kyrie Irving and lost to the Miami Heat). Only the vaccinated are allowed to enter Barclays Center, which “requires” people who have had only one shot to wear their masks throughout the game.

It advises even the vaxed to wear their masks, too, though most fans didn’t bother.

And this: Last Wednesday night, I went out to a networking party for the first time in almost two years. It was part of the NFT_NYC trade show for NFTs, the Next Fantastical Thing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

The party unfolded at Cipriani Downtown. In a cavernous ballroom, a few hundred techies, artists, climbers and investors mingled in a frenzy and struggled to hear each other over the loud, pulsating sounds of '70 soul, laid down by a DJ with her own bass guitar.

The mood was buoyant and redolent with capitalist dreams. Four well-stocked bars lubricated the crowd, and people snacked on communal bowls of potato chips, and rocky chunks of parmesan cheese, and still other munchies, without a single bottle of Purell in sight.

COVID? What COVID? Let’s just hope everyone washed their hands.

All of us had to show ID and vaccination proof to enter, and, once inside, almost no one wore a mask — except for all of the servers.

One staffer told me that all the workers were required to wear masks, regardless of their vax status, which struck me as unfair. She was unbothered by it, citing her pay of $22 an hour at the gig and the opportunity for her to get in on this new NFT thing.

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Non-fungible means it is one-of-a-kind and can’t be reproduced. Bitcoin’s value is based on what the next person might be willing to pay for it; NFT value is based on a piece of artwork or digital media locked up inside the token — and what the next person might be willing to pay for it.

A graphic designer who calls himself Beeple sold a digital collage as an NFT for $69 million earlier this year. A digital copy of the first tweet ever sent on Twitter, by founder Jack Dorsey, who autographed it, sold for almost $3 million in May.

There’s no accounting for taste.

Dennis Kneale is a writer and media strategist in New York, after six years as anchor at CNBC and Fox Business Network and 25 years at The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. He helped write "The Trump Century: How Our President Changed the Course of History," by Lou Dobbs, published in September 2020 by HarperCollins. Read Dennis Kneale's reports — More Here.

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We live in a lopsided world gone COVID Crazy, so divided we can’t even agree on how fearful we should be of the virus that China gave us.
covid, fear
Tuesday, 09 November 2021 12:04 PM
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