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Opinion
Faye Flam

A Million Covid Deaths Later, Americans Are Still Confused About the Virus

More than two years into the pandemic, the public health establishment still hasn’t designed effective mandates or given people the information they need to calculate risk.

Not going to protect anyone if it’s lying on the ground.

Not going to protect anyone if it’s lying on the ground.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Approximately a million people have died from Covid-19 in the US. The country now faces a new surge in BA.2 and BA.2.12.1; other variants are likely to follow. Yet Americans are now packing into restaurants, parties and exercise classes as if it’s 2019. 

It’s easy to blame Covid fatigue, but that may not be the problem. People are confused, badly informed, and cynical for good reason — the public health establishment has let us down many times, underplaying the risk early, making rules that were geared as much for show as for our protection, and blaming us for their failures.