The Editorial Board: Debate over lifting Covid restrictions mired in political skirmishes | Editorial

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This poll and others show that a majority of Republicans think the virus threat has been exaggerated. Compared to Democrats, a smaller percentage of them have been vaccinated, or at least admit it. A higher percentage of Democrats are vaccinated and polls show they view Covid as a threat.

On both sides, political ideology can freeze people’s opinions. A typical Republican might want to get rid of warrants and masks and make all Covid precautions optional, whether current conditions and their medical condition or age place them in a high-risk category.

An archetypal Democrat may be so wrapped up in risk avoidance that he or she demands schools be closed when case numbers rise, underestimating the toll on student mental health and academic reversals of learning from a distance.

The polarization of American politics turns disagreement into a blood sport. Opponents of mask or vaccine mandates demonstrate against politicians who allegedly try to control their lives, deny them their constitutionally protected freedoms and turn citizens into sheep. Politicians imposing mandates were threatened by unhinged citizens, some brandishing guns, who inhaled too much overheated rhetoric.

Similarly, it is important in any state, blue or red, to guard against the reverse – avoid discussing changing conditions as Omicron’s surge decreases and light is visible further down the tunnel. To her credit, Governor Kathy Hochul is having these conversations.

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