COVID-19 Hygiene Theater Is Out of Control

It's unscientific, wastes precious resources, and keeps Americans unjustifiably scared of the virus.


The 9/11 attacks gave us the heightened security theater now on display in all U.S. airports. Day after day for the last two decades, Transportation Security Administration agents have patted down travelers from teens to the elderly, looking for weapons that nobody expects to find. While airplane cockpit doors are now locked to prevent hijackings, the pat-downs remain.

And now we have pandemic hygiene theater to give uninformed people a false sense of control and sustain their fear of the virus.

Think of the number of hours that schools, restaurants, and other businesses spend wiping down surfaces to prevent COVID-19 transmission even though we've known since last July that this wiping isn't necessary. Yet Americans continue to spend untold hours and dollars wiping surfaces to provide the appearance of virus protection to their patrons.

In Arlington, Virginia, my kids' schools have implemented overly stringent and frankly illogical measures that create barriers to accessing an effective education. For starters, the schools have only welcomed back a subset of their student population for two days a week for in-person education. They've also reduced the number of actual teaching days from five to four, during which the kids get only half of the education time they used to get. But they do spend time and energy wiping down surfaces and making students wipe their desks. They're also instructed daily to "limit touching of surfaces to only when is necessary."

That isn't the only form of hygiene theater some schools perform.

Every morning I must fill out a form for each of my kids, assuring the school that they have no fever, yet the school still has temperature checks at every entry point of the building. The alleged need for temperature checks is one stated reason for why kids cannot be taught on site more than two days a week and why more kids can't be brought back for in-person instruction.

These theatrics continue even though Anthony Fauci admitted last August that temperature checks "are notoriously inaccurate." Nobody should be surprised. We've known for months that up to 40 percent of Americans with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

Our schools also claimed that they couldn't bring the kids back last fall because students must stay six to 10 feet apart. I'm reminded of this every morning when I electronically agree to my kids following the safety standards. That's 4 feet more than even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended for months. And even the origin of that 6-feet rule is mysterious. It's twice the length recommended by most countries and the World Health Organization.

Adding insult to injury, the CDC finally changed its guidelines from 6 to 3 feet, yet Arlington schools still require distances of at least six to 10 feet and universal mask use. Never mind that teachers have been prioritized for vaccination, and research shows that schools don't increase COVID-19 spread in the community.

And as the Manhattan Institute's Connor Harris notes, the evidence behind some of these mask mandates "turns out to be quite weak." The "widespread use of masks throughout the United States and Europe has failed to stop massive pandemic waves in the fall and winter," he observes, adding that "preliminary signs also suggest that mask mandates may be causing considerable harm. Several state governments have recently rescinded their mask mandates, and a look at the science suggests that more should consider following."

Likewise, for a number of valid social-development and health-related reasons, Harris's colleague John Tierney concludes that "mask mandates are especially cruel to young children." As Tierney's research explains, "The CDC's policy placates the leaders of teachers' unions but flouts the guidance issued jointly by UNICEF and the World Health Organization."

These theatrics play out in a world where many of us reuse our face masks such as the one we keep in our car, reuse surgical masks many times, or wear masks below our noses. There are many actors starring in this daily health drama. The same applies to the number of Americans who continue to wear masks outdoors despite evidence that transmission rarely takes place outside. And the same will be said of those who, although vaccinated, will continue to wear masks long after we reach herd immunity.

While some of these examples may seem silly, hygiene theater has huge costs and wastes precious resources. It also keeps Americans unjustifiably scared of the virus while promoting the delusion that with enough such measures, we can finally live in a world free of risks.


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  1. COVID-19 Hygiene Theater Is Out of Control

    Covid-19 Hygiene Theater is a great description. They should have engraved that on Cuomo’s Grammy.

    1. This author would be the first to sue if mama’s lil darlin became infected. THIS is why there is drama.

      Until they have a safe vax for kids, do what you have to do and stop whining about others who CLEAN for heaven’s sake. Be thankful your kids are back in school for however long they are back in school every week.

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      2. Be thankful your kids are back in school for however long they are back in school every week.

        Thank you for the gruel sir, may I have some more?

        Seriously – schools should just be opened, so being thankful they are partially opened instead of being rightfully pissed they’re partially closed seems as though you are forgetting taxpayers are in charge of the schools, the schools are not in charge of the taxpayers.

      3. Parents are now able to sue a school if a child is infected by another child? You may want to look that up. One thing is for sure. The states that have reopened their schools and dropped mask mandates are doing better then the states that are still using strict mandates. The real hesitation and opposition by Democrat controlled states is admitting once again President Trump was right. They actually hoped states such as Florida would have spikes and more people would die just to get even.

  2. Mask should be worn all time.

    1. Indeed, because in the world of “mask hysteria,” everyday is Halloween.

      1. I think we really need to ramp the fuck up here. Everyone needs to wear full MOPP gear. All the time. Even when alone.

        1. Nothing says ” off the rails paranoid” like the worker I saw on TV this AM, totally isolated outdoors wearing a mask.

          The mind is gone at that point.

          Thats it, wear a mask, get it contaminated then continue to wear it and breathe the bug in.

          PPE must not only be effective but MUST be worn with TRAINING and not that of a circus seal.

          This IS a mass mind control experiment.

          BTW go get a tainted contaminated vaccine too! Thatll help.

          1. the funny part of mask is even if it initially prevents spread of the virus if the virus is on the surface continued use will eventually draw it in. mask are not a permenent barrier. it should have a flow rate per hours of use not just a virual size limitation. i also lfind it silly when people move their mask to their chin which would be covered with viruses and you have now transferred those to the inside that you breath in. its derp all around

          2. “tainted contaminated vaccine”

            See you were doing so well. Then you just shot yourself in the foot.

        2. Saw a guy wearing a respirator and a face shield at the store the other day.

          1. Like the quote in the story just yesterday: “Wearing a mask sends the ‘right message’ and puts others at ease.”

            That is why we will continue to be asked/ requested/ demanded to continue wearing masks for the next 20 years.

    2. Including when sleeping.

    3. lying is not a comment, Troll

    4. You can take your mask off during a 5 minute shower, as long as the wife, kids and dog leave the house first.

      1. And you have to hold your breath the whole time.

    5. Masks are only effective if you are screaming and chanting during a protest or riot and looting. You have to do it for hours everyday for months to be real effective.

  3. It’s unscientific, wastes precious resources, and keeps Americans unjustifiably scared of the virus.

    “Stop! My penis can only get so erect!” – Dr. Fauci and every other bureaucrat in government

    1. Not as his age it can’t. That’s why he’s jerking off the American people.

  4. Anything that keeps children out of the clutches of government schooling is arguably a blessing in disguise.

    Generally, this article seems kind of hysterical. Wearing masks more than necessary is…unnecessary, but maybe not a “huge cost”.

    1. “..kind of hysterical.”

      Maybe. But not as hysterical as what many State governments are doing.

    2. I think how you like!

      Yes, this is more Leftist hypocrisy on display. They are advocates of Gimmement Indoctrination Camps where ( after which) its PROVEN our Citizens are becoming as dumb as the Toilet Paper they are hoarding.

      They are like Richard Pryors ‘ animal in traffic…’

    3. Do you think a generation of kids who receive 20% of the normal instruction time is a minor inconvenience?
      IS restaurants limiting themselves to 50% capacity not a huge cost?

    4. I’ll agree that government schools are not a good thing in general. And if all this does lead to more parents agreeing with that, that will be some kind of silver lining. But kids need something else. I’d say the social isolation, fear and not seeing faces is doing much more harm to kids than public school does.

  5. Didn’t a paper come out in the last month or so that basically said that surface contamination is not transmitting the disease?

    1. Yes. And I think that has been known for longer than that.

  6. I’m glad Reason is finally coming around but I can’t help but be suspicious about the sudden timing of all this. Where was this article last April?

    1. attacking the messenger is A Troll tactic.

      1. You misspelled propagandist.

  7. Such irrationality led to Nasi Germany.

    Everyone must be afraid of the Boogey- man ( the Jew or other non- Ayran purist) or the Boogie Virus.

    Group Thinking is dangerous.

    Group not thinking is beyond dangerous.

  8. “I’m reminded of this every morning when I electronically agree to my kids following the safety standards.”

    Then stop agreeing. If you are smart enough to write a column, you are smart enough to homeschool.

    1. attacking the messenger is a Troll tactic.

      1. Suggesting alternative actions is a discussion tactic.

    2. Do you know what private daycare and baby sitters cost? Schools may not be good for education but they are priceless as free daycare.

    1. i would take the advice from a simple farmer over some city boy

      1. I have never worn a mask outdoors. I was however kicked out of the backyard of a Starbucks in Baltimore City for drinking my coffee. BC had a period of about ten weeks where even outdoor dining was deemed too dangerous. Our mayor and his cronies are truly fucking idiots.

        1. They all want to be seen as being “on the right side” and they are not about to take any chances; and your liberty be damned in the meantime.

  9. I pretty much wrote this article one year ago! Reason (a supposed Libertarian publication) is just now getting this and writing about it…..sad.

    1. well it IS all about you, isnt it Cream Puff?

      Anotherself absorbed unfounded statement via Attacking the Messenger is not a comment on the topic, Troll.

      Lots of Trolling here. Maybe Reason are hitting some proverbial nerves?

      1. “Lots of Trolling here”

        There certainly is, troll.

  10. the origin of that 6-feet rule is mysterious.

    Oh, that’s easy. It’s the length of 9 drinking straws laid end to end.

    1. Well, those certainly couldn’t be PLASTIC straws….

    2. It’s the wingspan of a bald eagle.

      1. I bet a bald eagle could carry a coconut…

    3. It is likely related to an estimate related to an inverse square law. The concentration spreads out in roughly 1/r^2. That applies to electromagnetic radiation but likely a similar concept here.

      Also six feet is an easy distance to use based on body height.

      1. In other words, nothing to do with virus transmission in particular.

      2. It’s probably half of that – assuming you’re not floating in midair, viral dispersion would be hemispherical.

      3. …but none of that intelligent sounding comment has any merit …just a false comparison with electromagnetics

        An EE responds:

        1. EM is not radiation. it is not particles its fields
        2m It doesnt get blown around by air

        especially your hot air…

        1. likely a similar concept

          And it is. Density, whether an EM field, viral, or HO2 molecules (ask White Knight) decrease at a rate proportional to the inverse square of the radius.

          MSEE, PE, 30 years, stop the appeals to authority, shut the fuck up, read a math book, and wipe your chin off, Mary.

          1. Lorraine! I am your density!

            1. Why don’t you make like a tree…and get outta here?

        2. Attacking the messenger is a Troll tactic. Also, EM is most certainly radiation. EM is particles in a field. What do you think photons are? And the inverse square law most certainly applies to photons radiated from an object such as a star.

        3. EM is radiation. X rays, gamma rays, visible light, radio waves, they are all in the same spectrum.

          I said approximate when it comes to a virus spread in air. It is not the same as a photon. Obviously you cannot fit a viral spread into Maxwells equations.

          It is logical that as it spreads as a cloud of particles your distance is roughly in an exponential inverse proportional relationship. As I move away from you from two to six feet I am reducing my exposure not just 3x but much more than that.

      4. six feet is an easy distance to use based on body height.

        Likely has more to do with this than anything else.

        “Six feet? Yeah, sounds about right.”

        Didn’t Bailey do an article on this a couple of months ago? Like the whole thing comes from German TB treatments in the 1870s or some shit.

      5. its arm spread length easier than laying down to determine 6′

    4. Or 1/50th the length of a football field.

  11. Anti-Whites are using Covid-19 to take away the last shreds of our culture & traditions they previously allowed us to have.

    “Diversity” means chasing down the last White person.

    “Diversity” is a code word for White Genocide.

    1. And how is COVID committing white genocide?

    2. Racist idiot.

    3. Look what the stupid dragged in,

      1. aww Misek found a girlfriend

        1. You can’t scientifically prove that!

  12. Has anyone ever actually interviewed a sample of folks who got Covid, to see whether or not they wore masks and obeyed all the social distance and sanitation rules? That’s be an interesting study.

    1. Yes, it was about 80% claimed compliance.

      1. “claimed compliance”, how about actual compliance? Probably 10%-20%

        1. You are guessing.

      2. Knoxville TN Ch 8
        A year ago. Family ALL ” did the right things..’ masks and all.

        They ALL got the virus. The Parents got very ill.

        Hypocrisy 301

        1. No. You can do all of that and once you have the virus in a family living together you can all get the disease.

          Nobody claimed otherwise. The goal is to keep it from getting there in the first place.

          I will say it again.

          The measures we are doing are weak defense.

          Jabs in arms are powerful weapons.

          The virus needs a host to replicate.

          1. If vaccination is the answer then why did the case count stop declining as we reached 50% vaccinated with at least one dose? Considering how many millions that were asymptomatic or recovered and now been vaccinated it should be declining rapidly. It will not suddenly just collapse as we hit the magic herd immunity. It should be a steady decline as vaccinations are happening.
            This seems about as logical as the mask mandates. The more people complied the worse the winter spike became. When people reached covid fatigue and became less complying it declined rapidly. The first theory was we were reaching herd immunity. The next theory hasn’t been revealed.

    2. How many times have you had this exact conversation with someone:

      Person: “Oh, my got COVID. It’s super weird because they were really good about wearing a mask and social distancing all the time.”

      I get to hear this about once a week at least.

    3. Supposedly two-thirds of those catching it in NYC were staying in. I recall a story in the WaPo about a woman who says she caught it despite her or her husband never coming into contact with anyone (I suspect the husband was sneaking out to get away from her).

      But a study proving that compliance didn’t keep you safe wouldn’t matter… Those who performed all the correct religious gestures and still got the bug were clearly not pure enough in their faith. They should have been wearing three masks, or they should have been bleaching their lettuce, or…

      (Historical note: the flagellant movement really took off during the Black Death.)

      1. I have an awesome jpg of Cuomo explaining that most cases come from home and hospitals, while the graphic on the bottom says “Stay home, Save lives!”

  13. No mention of the WellHealth scam Seal, promoted by Hollywood celebrities so that all you rubes will bow to their innate brilliance and comply?

    1. So you’re telling me that you don’t need Robert DeNiro to tell you where it’s safe?

    2. Unless I absolutely have to, I will never go into a building with the WellHealth Seal. Why? Because FYTW.

  14. I’m reminded of the people spending quite visible time wiping down the handlebars of the exercise bikes at the gym, ignoring the door knobs.
    It shows you care and that you’re stupid.

    1. whatever happened to HAND WASHING. and carrying a HANDKERCHIEF?

      Note the moron Sebelius who went on TV with her patrinizing attitude of ‘ sneeze into your elbow’

      God thats stupid, it just blows out UNDER the persons elbow onto whomever is beside them
      I go to a restaurant on Wednesdays. Many come in wearing their Social Masks.

      But now the Woke crowd think thats a ‘ thing.

      NONE of the restaurant goers wearing masks go to the restroom and wash their hands.


    2. Mindless and gullible bots.

  15. Rangers at the Columbus Metro Parks have been sanitizing playground equipment since last summer. Let that sink in… park rangers sanitizing the outdoors.

    1. It has been really weird to see which pronouncements of public health authorities people pay attention to and which go ignored, particularly when the advice changes.

    2. some California parks were open but they closed the toilets for fear of the Rona but then everyone just shits in the woods and that is worse since people don’t carry a shovel or TP around

    3. Probably because all the sunshine is being used for solar power – – – – – – – – –

  16. Glad to live in a part of the country that hasn’t adopted such ridiculous left wing theatrics. And won’t.

  17. lol Ronald Bailey on line 2 …

  18. Really this pandemic situation is out of control.. we have must wear mask and sanitizing ..But everyone maintain some civic sense…

  19. The sheep can’t be bothered with facts. Keep spraying your groceries with lysol you idiots.

    1. I’ve seen people in parking lots at grocery stores wiping down all their groceries before putting them in their car. Others told me they clean them before taking them into the house.

  20. they used to warn us about creating super bugs from over sanitizing and now they wonder why we have multiple new variants. maybe because of over sanitizing?

  21. This article is 11 months too late.

  22. I was at Kohl’s last month. At each register, after a customer was finished paying, the cashier took a spray bottle and rag and cleaned the surface for the next customer’s purchases. When I did the customer survey on the receipt, I pointed out how absurd this is. It’s a waste of money for the company and makes customers wait longer on line, which is what I don’t want.

    1. It’s about virtue, and acting and appearing as though they give a shit and in doing so they have to “do something.”

      It has nothing to do with identifying real problems or applying any meaningful solutions.

      A lot like politics, at any level.

    2. The cashier is not protecting you.

      Sorry you had to wait longer in line.

  23. Ask Amy: Amy, I’ve only washed my mask (cloth with ear straps) one time since July. It mostly lies on my car seat. Should I be worried?

    1. Depends who sat on it last…

  24. Mask theater may waste my time and keep me physically uncomfortable, but at least it adds nothing to my fear of the virus. It adds plenty to my fear of government, however, and of mass hysteria induced by the media.

  25. COVID hysteria was off the rails from the very beginning. Let’s not quarantine the sick or even the vulnerable, hey let’s quarantine everyone! Masks indoors. Mask outdoors. Masks all the time. Masks while running track. Two masks. No, wait, three masks. Thank God, we have a vaccine – but still social distance, and wear a mask, and lock down. Why do we have a vaccine again? Wipe down all your surfaces. Oh wait, that’s unnecessary- but do it anyway. Had the disease and survived? You have natural immunity- but you still have to have the vaccine, and wear a mask, and social distance, and lock down. Everyone who follows all this has gone crazy.

  26. They say it is critical you wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds minimum many times throughout the day. This is a disaster for global warming and climate change and wasting water. If 328 million Americans alone are waiting for the water to get hot and letting it run for over 20 seconds even 5 times a day the carbon footprint to produce the energy to heat the water is huge. Then the added washing and drying of the masks and we defeat the virus but destroy the planet. Where is AOC and Bernie warning us about this? You can almost see the cloud of CO2 rising and they don’t even notice.

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