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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

What do you get if you take people who enjoy how white privilege gives them advantages in society, how male privilege lets men dictate the lives of women, and how social privilege buffers the wealthy from economic misfortunes that beset millions of Americans? The Republican Party. And at the top of the Republican Party is a reliable layer of wealth, white males whose privilege on top of privilege on top of privilege has left them so isolated that their empathy muscles have atrophied away to dust.

Take Chris Christie. In addition to being the man who famously thought it would be hilarious to punish thousands of commuters to demonstrate his power over a local mayor, the most recent appearance of Christie in the news came following questions over whether he encouraged Donald Trump to try and make Joe Biden stutter. Then he got sick. Now, after spending a solid week in the ICU, Christie has been gifted an epiphany: COVID-19 is bad.It might seem that having 220,000 Americans die—including 16,300 in New Jersey—would be enough of a signal that COVID-19 was serious business and every step should be taken to avoid catching it or spreading it to others. But there's that empathy problem again: For guys like Christie, it's not an issue until it happens to them.

So on September 26, as Trump was rolling out Amy Coney Barrett to a superspreader event featuring over 100 Republican "stars," Christie was right there, walking around without a mask, shaking hands, getting in people's faces, and sucking down coronavirus. Inside and outside on that day, Christie seemed to operate with the same general disdain for the disease that Trump and his followers have demonstrated both before and after that day. That was, as Christie now admits, a bad idea.

In a statement to The New York Times Christie wrote, "I was wrong. I was wrong not to wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the president and the rest of the team." And Christie goes on to write, "I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow C.D.C. guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others."

It would be nice if part of his next debate prep for Trump included having him repeat that message, because on Thursday night, Trump once against refused to say that he had been wrong about not insisting on masks and explained that "85% of people who wear masks catch coronavirus." When NBC host Savannah Guthrie attempted to correct him, Trump steamed on, saying, "That's what I heard and that's what I saw."

Actually, the 85 percent survey comes from a questionnaire in which patients who have contracted COVID-19 were asked about their habits. And 85 percent said that they "always" or "usually" wore a mask in social distancing situations. But then … what are they going to say? Any other box on the form might as well be labeled "Nope, I got this disease through my own foolishness or by following the example set by Donald Trump."

How effective is wearing a mask in real life? Winding back the clock to early summer, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey enthusiastically threw off social distancing guidelines and became one of the most vocal supporters of Trump's calls to "reopen" everything. When cities and counties in his state issued mask mandates, Ducey even issued a order blocking all such regulations. Which is how by early June, Arizona has sailed to the top of the charts on new COVID-19 cases. As hospitals filled and death rates raced up, local officials begged Ducey to relent.

Finally, on June 18, after weeks of refusing to issue a mandate, Ducey relented and allowed local authorities to create mandates in their areas. Which they did. So how is that going? As Arizona Central reports, the rate of COVID-19 zoomed up after Ducey removed restrictions at the end of May. But for those areas that implemented mask mandates, new cases of COVID-19 fall 75% in the following six weeks. That number is almost perfectly in line with what experts have predicted if there was a general mandate to wear masks.

Christie, who received both first-rate care and yet another of those experimental monoclonal antibody "cocktails" unavailable to normal COVID-19 patients, is now feeling better. But if he wants to show that he's actually grown a heart at least one grinch-size larger, he needs to convince Trump to issue a national mask mandate.

Friday, Oct 16, 2020 · 1:08:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time · Mark Sumner

From a Christie statement released on Friday.

"No matter what you're doing, you should have a mask on and you should try to remain socially distant from folks. I did it for seven months and I stayed healthy. I didn't do it for four days and I wound up in the ICU."


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