New York City is hard at work competing for the title of having the cruelest, dumbest and most ineffective COVID-19 policy in the world.
The city is fighting in the courts to protect their “only toddlers” mask mandate. This policy essentially means that while indoor mask mandates have been dropped for all other ages and groups, children between the ages of 2 to 4 will continue to be required to wear face coverings. Mayor Adams has said he wants to lift it soon, but he is simultaneously using the city’s Law Department to try to prolong the rule.
The mayor doubling down on this regulation is baffling.
When the history books are written, nearly everything we did to children in the course of this pandemic will look excessive, heavy-handed and harmful. That is true for school closures, the single greatest domestic policy failure. And that is true for aggressively masking the youngest amongst us.
We did so without robust evidence that it helped, in contrast with most European nations, including social democracies that routinely spend more on early childhood enrichment, care and development than we do. New York City’s current policy is regressive and futile. It represents the many ways in which the COVID-19 response hit hardest those with the least power, and the least ability to fight back.
When history judges us, we will look as primitive as our ancestors who battled the plagues of Europe with superstitions and rituals, victims to their own ignorance and fear.