We might find out that COVID-19 infection carries with it a parcel of unwanted downstream effects. Say, a modestly increased risk of heart attack, of stroke, of early dementia. And maybe that those risks go up with repeated infection. It’s in no way certain any of this is the case. I’m not even sure it’s likely! But the probability seems high enough that it’s worth thinking about what the consequences of that would be.
My instinct is that the practice of wearing masks in crowded indoor settings would end up looking like the practice of vegetarianism does now. In other words, it would be something which:
- clearly has individual health benefits although the magnitude is arguable;
- clearly has public-good benefits although the magnitude is arguable;
- most people don’t do;
- some people feel they ought to do but don’t, or don’t fully;
- changes over time from seeming “weird” to being well within the range of normal things people do, though there remain aggrieved antis who can’t shut up about how irrational and self-righteous the practitioners are;
- is politically impossible to imagine being imposed by government
Would I be one of the people who kept up mask-wearing in crowded public places? I mean, I’ve been doing it so far, though certainly not with 100% adherence.
I do still eat meat, even though the environmental case for vegetarianism is clear-cut, and there’s a reasonably compelling argument that eating meat is bad for my own health. But giving up meat forever would be a lot harder on me than wearing a mask to the grocery store forever.