CDC Approves Remedy That Reduces Spread of Covid-19

As the world braces for the 10-millionth confirmed case of Coronavirus, high-risk areas have found a glimmer of hope: The CDC has approved a remedy that reduces the risk of Covid-19 transmission by 79%. This remedy offers the potential to restore some of the progress made by months of isolation and self-quarantine, which have crippled the economy and tested the country’s collective willpower.

The medication, scientifically referred to as Wearing A Fucking Mask, works by engaging a thin layer of cloth over one’s mouth and nose, and that’s it. Multiple studies have examined the effectiveness of WAFM, including one from Britain which suggests that widespread use of masks could prevent future waves of Covid-19 from re-emerging in the future, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives. Still, residents of high-risk states have expressed concern over the slippery slope of government intervention. 

Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 | Science
Science Magazine, June 2020

“They want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door,” stated a Palm Beach, Florida resident in an actual quote that I did not make up. Although the aforementioned studies concluded that God’s wonderful breathing system is the most common form of transmission of the virus, some concerned citizens feel that a mandate to wear masks represents unlawful government overreach.

“It is my Constitutional right to be a dumbass,” declared Bradley Chesnut, an El Paso, Texas contractor, in a surprising exhibition of self-awareness. As state officials scramble to understand why this kind of thing ever had to be mandated in the first place, resistance to big government has stunted the country’s ability to form a cohesive response to the pandemic. Frustrated citizens are now left wondering why the virus has largely dissipated from Europe and China — both of which were hit harder and much earlier — but continues to thrive in the United States. 

Passengers outside Beijing Station, Beijing on January 22, 2020

As the global death toll from Covid-19 climbs over 500,000, some have also expressed concerns over the potential negative health consequences of WAFM. Karen Johnson, a Mesa, Arizona resident wearing an All Lives Matter T-shirt, explains, “The masks are so restrictive. I feel like I’m just breathing my own air.” Arizona health officials, who emphasized that that’s the fucking point, directed demonstrators to guidance from the CDC and WHO which suggest that there is absolutely no conceivable way that WAFM could be a health hazard. Nonetheless, the cultural phenomenon of anti-mask movements remain a formidable force. 

The spread of Covid-19, a deadly respiratory infection which causes severe lung inflammation, can be prevented by WAFM, but many voluntarily refuse to do so because they claim that masks impede their ability to breathe. “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” mocked Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips, who was met with uproarious and backhandedly racist applause from constituents. The politicization of masks have pitted the CDC, WHO, and the entire scientific community against the GOP’s anti-mask caucus, a real thing that exists, leaving the country unsure who to trust during an outbreak of a global pandemic. 

Both sides of the aisle have at least acknowledged the bleak reality of the skyrocketing death toll and the United States’ failure in responding to the crisis. One can only hope that in lieu of any cohesive federal leadership, Americans can find some way to rally behind one another in a bid to restore the health and normalcy which we all so desperately yearn for.

New York: Ban “Rubber” Bullets

In the weeks after George Floyd’s death, 1,600 mass demonstrations erupted across all 50 states, triggering federal leadership to tighten their grip on “LAW AND ORDER!” Inflammatory rhetoric from the President himself cascaded down to state and local levels, as his calls to shoot looters on sight evolved into a local police chief stating that “we’re shooting African Americans about 24 percent less than we probably ought to be.” Emboldened by a green light from the Executive, many local police departments turned to violent crowd control tactics, including one of their most deceptively brutal weapons: rubber bullets.

The term “rubber bullet” conjures up images of a bouncy ball fired from a paintball gun into your shin, or a supersonic spitball smacking against your forearm — harsh, but innocent, and certainly not lethal. This innocuous misconception is exactly what makes rubber bullets so dangerous. 

Rubber bullets, officially referred to as Kinetic Impact Projectiles (KIPs), aren’t actually made of rubber. The most common variations include plastic-metal composites, or simply metal bullets coated in plastic, typically the size of a large marshmallow or soda can. 

Source: @MakaylaBergasse, Twitter

During their introduction in the 1970s, rubber bullets were referred to as “non-lethal” crowd control mechanisms. And yet, a meta-analysis from the British Journal of Health found that of 1,983 individuals who suffered injuries from a Kinetic Impact Projectile, 3% were killed, and an additional 15% suffered permanent injuries, typically to their eyes or face. Rubber bullets have since been reclassified as “less lethal” in the Use of Force Guidelines for most local police departments and the United Nations, but this reclassification does not solve the problem, nor does it accurately represent the level of morbidity inflicted upon victims.

Source: British Journal of Health, 2018

According to Brian Higgins, the former police chief of Bergen County, New Jersey, these weapons can “penetrate the skin, break bones, fracture the skull and explode the eyeball,” consistent with observed injuries in Minneapolis demonstrators and beyond. Still, they are culturally perceived as a merciful alternative to real bullets, which emboldens officers to use them with a dangerous lack of restraint. 

Accountability measures like post-incident documentation are almost non-existent when a KIP is fired. The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations published their own crowd-control weapons study which notes: 

“While [KIPs] may theoretically offer an option for reduced force, in practice, and perhaps because of the assumption that they are always less lethal, the weapons are often used in an indiscriminate manner, without exhausting all other possible peaceful means first. This is due, in large part, to inadequate pre-deployment testing, insufficient training, lack of regulations, and poor accountability mechanisms.”

Recent demonstrations have helped expose the ugly reality that many police officers are already too willing to pull the trigger in the name of self-defense (never mind that Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back). If you replace a real gun with a “non-lethal” weapon, the likelihood of that weapon being discharged spikes dramatically. Although the official classification of KIPs has transitioned from “non-lethal” to “less lethal,” their cultural perception, particularly in the eyes of police officers, have not.

Most protocols for the use of KIPs require officers to aim for soft muscular tissue — not the face or eyes — and to fire from a safe distance. Still, the aforementioned BJH study found that 49% of deaths and 84% of permanent injuries related to rubber bullet attacks occurred from impacts to the head or neck, suggesting that protocols are not strict enough to protect protesters, or that they simply are not followed at all. A violent clash between a crowd and police forces creates a chaotic environment in which training protocols are easily ignored, and accountability is almost effortlessly sidestepped. The INCLO furthers:

“Safe shooting distances are not well validated, however, and are highly variable among weapons, countries and manufacturers. In practice, deployment of KIPs may occur from distances much closer than deemed safe.”

Source: The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations, 2018

Even when the proper protocols are followed, the weapons endanger uninvolved bystanders who never even assumed the risk of being involved in a protest. Journalists and demonstrators shared an overwhelming number of anecdotes of being brutalized by impacts to the face, eyes, and other parts of the body, which were corroborated by the BJH analysis: “several studies reported instances in which KIP weapons unintentionally injured bystanders and non-violent demonstrators instead of the specific individuals that were targeted.” During a protest in San Jose, a nonviolent protester suffered a ruptured testicle, prompting a city councilmember to acknowledge that KIPs “happened to cause an extensive amount of collateral damage on innocent protesters, and in my mind and the mayor’s, obviously that’s just not acceptable.”

[The video below is very difficult to watch.]

The use of Kinetic Impact Projectiles to disburse crowds represents a morbid use of excessive force that has maimed, blinded, and even killed individuals who were exercising their Constitutional right to peaceful assembly. The use of KIPs against crowds should be banned, starting with New York City.

Source: NYPD Use of Force Guidelines

The ban is in no way a radical idea. Both the UN and Amnesty International have been calling for this ban for years in their Basic Principles on Use of Force. Lawmakers in San Jose have moved to ban rubber bullets, as did a New Jersey Mayor. More than 1.2 million people have signed a petition calling for the ban started by Physicians for Human Rights. The topic has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and CNN. The ACLU published a fact sheet which deemed KIPs an inappropriate method of crowd control. 

The movement has momentum, but it needs a leader to open the flood gates. New York City, a cultural leader in global politics — not to mention the headquarters of the United Nations — is the ideal leader for a national movement to protect nonviolent demonstrators from KIPs. New York acted as a model for the nation in efficiently passing meaningful police reform following the murder of George Floyd, including the criminalization of chokeholds, requirement of oversight of police surveillance technologies, and the affirmation of the right to record police officers in public, among others. 

Banning the use of rubber bullets on crowds belongs on that list. 

Sign here