Last week, more than 50 of the crème de la crème of American politics and journalism – almost all Democrats – made the personal lifestyle choice of getting Covid-19 Gridiron Dinnerwhere a marching band The celebrations began, “some of the comic skits featured actors disguised as the coronaviruslike big, green bouncy balls with red frills” and, as tradition has it, the guests shook hands to the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” at the end of the evening.
Our expert class, from Leana Wen to David Leonhardt, told us not to worry as we are all vaccinated, so all that was required of participants was proof of vaccination. In DC they’re all done now and damn it, they mean business. No pre-event testing, no special attention to ventilation in the ballroom, no thought to keep attendees at a distance rather than having them sit at long, narrow tables for hours. Now that everything is optional, it all depends on the individual. This is Leana Wen say the quiet part out loud in The Washington Post: “I also think it’s acceptable for event organizers to choose not to take precautions and instead place the responsibility on individuals to decide the acceptable level of risk for their own medical situation.” Normal means never have to apologize. Even if your guests fall ill with Covid-19, they always have Paxlovid, which is prescribed for them by the White House doctor or concierge internists in the district. When David Leonhardt reminds us of thisMasks and other protective measures are only for the recently infected, progressive Covid cul-de-sacs, nursing home residents and people with cancer.
What makes the Gridiron Dinner unfortunate is that no one really bothered to do the bare minimum, like the mitigation efforts just described — and then made it almost certain that the environment would be the most hospitable to the virus. Invite a brass band and sing a New Year’s hymn? Indoors in April? Might as well have gotten a garden sprayer and sprayed the room with SARS-CoV-2. Right now like us read in The New York Times, “there are no reports of symptoms more serious than a sore throat or a slight fever” – which is a blessing indeed – but knocking out a cabinet secretary for two weeks or, God forbid, sending him to the hospital seemed like a risk to all willing take. And remember, more than a few of the people at the shindig were in their 70’s and 80’s and no one seems to have thought twice, including my old friend Tony Fauci, who is 81 and was in attendance.