COVID Surrealism at the U.S. Open

Earlier this week, I blogged about the ‘mystery outbreak’ at the U.S. Open, and how it shouldn’t be a mystery at all: for about $12, the price of a box of 2 rapid antigen tests, one can determine if you have COVID. Yet the coverage is still treating this as a mystery. Someone must have tested by now, and could answer this question. But it’s telling that no one has done so publicly yet.

It’s all the more puzzling, since experts recommend that after COVID symptoms end, you shouldn’t engage in strenuous physical activity for a week to prevent long term illness (including, but not limited to, long COVID)–which is something most professional athletes should attempt to avoid. I would think their coaches and agents would be telling them to test–and that some enterprising journalist could find out some results. For that matter, why hasn’t any sports journalist ask a sick player if they’ve tested for COVID at all.

But I think there might be something else at play (SWIDT?) here too. There is a latent stigma attached to COVID infection, especially among those who haven’t been taking precautions, but aren’t in the COVID denialist camp. I’ll explain with a digression about why I get an annual flu shot.

Some years the flu shot is very effective at preventing symptomatic disease and hospitalization, and other years, not so much. But I still get the shot. Why? Because if I did come down with influenza and I hadn’t been vaccinated, I would kick myself for being a dumbass. It’s something I could have done to protect myself–and I would’ve failed to do it.

I think this is why we’re seeing some (not all) of the resistance to answering–and asking–the question about what’s causing the U.S. Open outbreak: lots of people know that things like mask wearing indoors will lessen the risk of infection, but they still don’t do it for a variety of reasons, including peer pressure*. In reality, most of us could do a better job of maintaining our health (no one’s perfect on this score), but if you test positive and you weren’t taking basic precautions (to the extent you’re able to do so), well, who’s fault is that?


*One reason to strongly encourage mask wearing is to ‘give permission’ to people to protect themselves.

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