Left-wing magazine Slate took the stunning and brave step Saturday of publishing an article outlining the case for no longer wearing masks outside.

‘As we’ve come to know more about the virus, as vaccinations are ramping up, and as we’re trying to figure out how to live with some level of COVID in a sustainable way, masking up outside when you’re at most briefly crossing paths with people is starting to feel barely understandable,’ the author reasoned.

Mask enthusiasts melted down in response, insisting that Slate‘s article was ‘irresponsible‘, ‘going to get people killed‘ and ‘misleading‘. Others celebrated the article as ‘a good sign of progress‘. A Harvard infectious disease specialist asserted, ‘I am generally a hawk about maintaining rules with a clear benefit. Outdoor masking has notable costs and really no evidence of benefits.’

Meanwhile, the rest of us normal people thought, ‘wait a second, you guys were still wearing masks outside?’

Yes, outside of the Twitter bubble and large city centers where mask virtue-signaling reigns supreme, no sane person has been wearing a mask outdoors for months. The science doesn’t support it. As Slate noted in its late-to-the-party piece, the chances of catching COVID during a brief moment passing someone else on the sidewalk are lower than getting struck by lightning.

Still, leftists persisted because they didn’t dare upset their woke neighbors who believe a ‘culture of safety‘ is more important than a return to normalcy. In downtown Washington DC, bikers and runners double mask and veer into the middle of the street rather than risk passing another pedestrian in close quarters. In Arlington, Virginia, I still spot people wearing masks while driving in their cars or sitting alone in parks. Refusing to comply often means getting the stink eye from a still terrified traverser.

Venture just an hour outside of the city, however, and life is shockingly normal. On Saturday morning, I drove with friends to Marshall, Virginia for a classic car parts swap. Buyers and sellers mingled with one another in the lot, complimenting each other’s rigs, listening to classic rock, and just enjoying the bright, crisp day — all without masks. The only person who stayed consistently masked up outside was the crunchy coffee boy selling overpriced cups of joe and bagels.

Parts for sale at an auto swap in Marshall, Virginia (Photo: Amber Athey)

Parts for sale at an auto swap in Marshall, Virginia (Amber Athey)

The same was the case as we walked around Middleburg, Virginia ahead of brunch at a local restaurant or when we sat around a fire pit at a winery where large groups held bachelorette and birthday parties. Compliance with local health regulations existed insofar as restaurants and shops played along to avoid being snitched on to the authorities and subsequently shut down, but it was clear that it was merely a charade. I was never asked to put on a mask when walking to a table, getting up to use a restroom, or otherwise lingering indoors. Outdoors there was never even a question that we should be expected to wear a mask.

Mainstream and left-wing media journalists often express horror at the freedom being displayed in places like Florida and Texas as if they are foreign lands, even though there have been no accompanying spikes in COVID-related deaths. If only they knew that the same indifference to draconian lockdowns and mask mandates was occurring less than 50 miles outside their front door.