Not only are the Distancers wrecking the school system and bludgeoning the economy, they’re also actively campaigning for a second nationwide lockdown.
In the minds of committed YOLOers, all this Distancer foolishness is threatening everyone’s ability to educate their children and keep a roof over their heads.
The YOLOers aren’t the only party with serious grievances. The Distancers, a group that I’m a charter member of, have their list of complaints about the YOLOers, starting with the basic fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is still nowhere near being controlled in the US to the degree that it is in other countries.
We Distancers don’t want to get Covid-19, partly because we’ve lost seemingly healthy friends, acquaintances, and loved ones to it. We know first-hand that this virus can kill people who are well under 70. Many of us also know Covid long-haulers, people who’ve suffered severe symptoms for months after they’re technically “recovered.”
Why, we wonder, are the YOLOers asking us to risk our health, when a whole host of other countries at various stages of wealth and development—from Vietnam to Germany to Singapore—have all used testing, tracing, and isolation to get the virus under control to the point where people can safely pack into restaurants without wearing masks? Why won’t these YOLOers do the right thing and support a nationwide second lockdown that gets the spread down to a level that we can manage with test-trace-isolate?
Once the virus is contained, so the Distancer logic goes, then we can all open up, together, and begin settling into something that looks closer to pre-pandemic normality.
Like the YOLOers, we Distancers are also keen to get our kids back into school. If only the YOLOers would cooperate with getting the spread down!
Distancers, too, have businesses that are hurting and jobs that are at risk from the economic slowdown. So let’s do a second lockdown the right way, and then reopen with a nationwide test-trace-isolate program on the model of Singapore or Germany.
Many of us Distancers would also dearly love to be able to go back to church, attend concerts, eat in restaurants, and do all the things the YOLOers are making impossible with their obstinate disregard for science and public health.
It’s not like we’re enjoying sitting at home while our YOLOing, Covid-immune friends are flooding social media with happy scenes of late-summer vacations and parties. To a Distancer whose nerves are frayed from months of isolation, each sun-filled photo or new tale of adventures in the outside world comes as a gut punch.
The Scope of the Problem
It’s hard to say exactly how widespread the divisions outlined above are. Our staff at The Prepared is spread across a number of Covid hot spots, and this divide has been a hot topic for us in recent weeks. Anecdotally, friends from other parts of the country have reported similar conflicts. These dynamics are splitting families and putting friends at odds with each other in places as distant as New Mexico and Wisconsin.
Recent AP-NORC polling shows a fairly stark partisan divide on a variety of coronavirus-related issues. Democrats are dramatically more likely than Republicans to support measures like mask wearing (31-point gap), limiting gathering sizes (36-point gap), closing bars and restaurants (41-point gap), and curtailing all non-essential trips outside the home (36-point gap). Polling from FiveThirtyEight also finds a partisan split on most questions of coronavirus restrictions, with Democrats being consistently more concerned about the virus than Republicans.
The Impending Collision
As the US approaches the fall season, the YOLOer and Distancer camps can both clearly see the same set of massive social disruptions bearing down on us all.
We’re facing a potential wave of evictions, as homeowners miss mortgage payments and renters miss rent. Kids will essentially miss school en masse, and the remote-learning schemes we’re now getting in our inboxes from teachers and principals are clearly an improvised joke. We’re all still struggling with a historically high rate of joblessness and with empty store shelves brought on by supply chain problems and financial woes.