A famed conservative columnist who lives at the epicenter of the United States’ latest Delta COVID cluster said of the virus ‘Let it rip’ after seeing how mild his vaccinated friends’ symptoms were.
Writer Andrew Sullivan says the COVID-19 outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, that infected around 900 people and triggered CDC‘s mask U-turn was sparked by wild July 4 indoor parties following Pride Week.
This outbreak was behind the CDC’s sudden backpedal on mask recommendations for vaccinated Americans to wear masks in indoor places in COVID hot spots.
But now Sullivan says first-hand experience of his friends’ illnesses showed that the Indian Delta variant poses little risk to vaccinated people – and called for restrictions to be lifted once and for all.
Writing his his popular blog, he said: ‘Take the rational precautions – a solid vaccine – and go about your business as you always did,’ Sullivan wrote.
‘We are at a stage in this pandemic when we are trying to persuade the holdouts – disproportionately white Republicans/evangelicals and urban African-Americans – to get vaccinated. How do we best do this?
Andrew Sullivan, an influential journalist and Provincetown resident, said COVID-19 outbreak in his town that infected around 900 people and triggered CDC’s mask U-turn was sparked by wild July 4 indoor parties
People walking through Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts on July 20
A sign on a P-town’s Heaven Cafe encourages customers to wear masks until they’re seated
‘Endless, condescending nagging won’t help. Coercion is not an option in a free country. Since the vaccinated appear to be able to transmit the virus as well, vaccine passports lose their power to remove all risk.
‘Forcing all the responsible people to go back to constraining their everyday lives for the sake of the vaccine-averse is both unfair and actually weakens the incentive to get a vaccine, because it lowers the general risk of getting it in the broader society.
‘So the obviously correct public policy is to let mounting sickness and rising deaths concentrate the minds of the recalcitrant. Let reality persuade the delusional and deranged. It has a pretty solid record of doing just that.’
Sullivan said many had just come from Pride parties in New York City and packed into bars and dance clubs.
One of the bars is like a ‘dang dungeon where sweat drips from the ceiling and mold reaches up the walls,’ Sullivan said.
‘It might have been designed for viral transmission,’ he added.
But all the friends he described in his post on The Weekly Dish experienced mild symptoms after testing positive.
Town Manager Andrew Morse confirmed that most of the 900 people connected to the Provincetown COVID outbreak had mild symptoms. Only seven were hospitalized and no one died, Morse said.
Morse – who was one of the 900 infected – said the popular holiday spot is safe, and expects life to return to normal there over the coming weeks.
The small town at the tip of Cape Cod – with a population of about 3,000 – is known for its eccentric and LGBTQ-friendly party atmosphere that Sullivan said attracts upwards of 40,000 people during the peak season.
Walking through the fishing and whale watching town has a Bourbon Street, New Orleans-feel.
Dressed as Maxine the Vaccine, Poppy Champlin encourages pedestrians to get vaccinated for Covid-19 while promoting her comedy show on Commercial Street in Provincetown
Only four of the vaccinated people were hospitalized, two of whom had underlying conditions, and there were no deaths showing vaccines are effective even against the Delta variant, which now makes up 83% of all new infections
A new CDC report detailed 469 cases of COVID-19 linked to an outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts between July 3 and July 17, of which 74% were in fully vaccinated people
In a good-news-bad-news situation, it’s scary to think that around three-quarters of the people who contracted the virus were vaccinated, but the outbreak is proof that vaccines are effective.
Dr. Ashish Jha, an epidemiologist and dean of public health at Brown University, said in a nine-tweet thread that he felt the situation was ‘reassuring.’
While the Delta variant is ‘more contagious than Ebola, Spanish Flu and probably chicken pox’ causing breakthrough cases in vaccinated people, the ‘vaccines prevent vast majority of infections, transmission and nearly all hospitalizations (and) deaths,’ Dr. Jha Tweeted.
‘Yeah, delta variant is bad. Like really bad. Our vaccines are good. Like really good. Breakthrough infections happen. Sometimes they may spread to others. But if enough people get the shot, the pandemic does come to an end.’
Provincetown: How July 4 weekend turned the partygoing playground of New England into the center of a Covid cluster
Located near the northern-most point of Cape Cod, Provincetown – or P-Town – is known for its beaches, artists and as a popular vacation spot for the LGBT+ community.
It has a population of just under 3,000 people year-round, but this raises to as high as 60,000 in the summer months.
Young party-goers descend on the town to make the most of the plethora of bars and clubs found along it’s famous Commercial Street.
Wealthy tourists usually found in nearby cities such a Boston and Manhattan will often use the town as their playground to spend their hard earned cash – or that of their parent’s.
But a week after crowds descended to celebrate the Fourth of July — the holiday President Joe Biden hoped would mark the nation’s liberation from COVID-19 — the manager of the Cape Cod beach town said he was aware of ‘a handful of covid cases among folks who spent time there’
Within weeks, the outbreak rapidly grew until, as of Thursday, 882 people were tied to an outbreak in the town, with 74 per cent of those having had both doses of the vaccine. It was reported that seven people were hospitalised, ABC News reported.
Before this, health officials were assuming that it was rare for a vaccinated person to become infected with the virus and, if they were, they probably wouldn’t infect others.
The assumption was based on studies of an earlier virus, and not the new Delta variant, which was first detected in India earlier this year.
It is indicated that this outbreak is among the new evidence behind the decision to make masks compulsory indoors again, even if they have had both doses of the vaccine.
The owner of Marine Specialties, a long running Army-Navy store, had been leery of officials dropping virus safety mandates ahead of what many expected would be a busy summer season. He even tried to require customers to mask up in his store through the summer, before finally relenting in June.
‘If we’d stuck with masks all along, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation,’ Patrick said, adding that he’s required all his staff to be masked and vaccinated. ‘They’re not entirely fun, but we wore them all last summer, and we didn’t have a single case in Provincetown. Now see where we’re at.’
It’s a blunt and probably controversial hot take, but Sullivan has made a career of doing just that.
The longtime journalist and conservative-leaning columnist, who is gay and HIV-positive, has been widely read and highly successful, with fans including Barack Obama.
But he was axed by as a columnist at New York Magazine after four years in 2020 and ripped cancel culture on his way.
He wrote in his final column that staff writers who weren’t in line with ‘woke’ issues surrounding race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity were ‘actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space.’
‘Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theory’s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media,’ Sullivan wrote. ‘That, to the best of my understanding, is why I’m out of here.’
He has been one of the most influential reporters and columnists since the late ’80s/early 90s and known for his contrarian views.
While editor of The New Republic magazine in 1994, Sullivan published a cover-story headlined ‘Race and IQ,’ which has seen him face continued criticism over a piece many claimed was racist.