Once, we all believed doctors ….

Brutal honesty: A side effect of this pandemic has been an increase in my distrust of other people. I hate this.

And yet how can I trust someone who thinks that the more than 500,000 U.S. citizens who’ve died from Covid didn’t actually die from Covid? According to these deniers, hospitals coded all deaths beginning in March 2020 as “Covid” even though most (if not all) were not from the novel coronavirus. They did this because the federal government (at that time it was Trump) paid the hospitals “extra” for every Covid death.

That is but one of the conspiracy theories surrounding Covid. The people who believe these theories do not believe in masks or vaccination and yet they – and others who are waiting on vaccination due to distrust of the medical system or simply wanting to watch what happens to vaccinated persons over the next year – are a public health risk.

I’m known for randomly talking to strangers – as illustrated by the photo above of me chatting with three old men in a village in Italy. It was a decade or more ago, and they were a hoot. They wanted to know about America, and I wanted to know about their village and, thankfully, they spoke enough English for us to get by, because my Italian was limited to asking where a bathroom was.

Pre-Covid, this was regular behavior for me – just talking to anyone I thought looked interesting. At the grocery store, coffeehouse, library, on the streetcar, wherever. I was forever trying to either get my children mates or my students jobs by chit-chatting with random strangers I thought might help in either endeavor.

Post-Covid, and especially post the CDC announcing that vaccinated persons can go without masks everywhere despite the fact that less than 50% of the country is vaccinated, I’ve discovered I don’t trust strangers so much anymore.

Turns out I’m not alone, as has been reported in various news outlets. There’s one question among the vaccinated: Can we trust the unvaccinated to continue wearing masks per public health recommendations?

Vaccination against Covid is a personal choice and everyone has the right to exercise that choice. But no one has the right to act in a manner dangerous to the public’s health. I examine this question and a solution in my op-ed column in today’s Arizona Daily Star. Let me know what you think of the idea proposed!

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