Tom Durkin: Reality bites back |

Tom Durkin: Reality bites back

Unmasked, unvaccinated folks are getting tiresome.

Now, they’re whining about being discriminated against. They’re complaining about being refused service in some businesses, events and nightclubs.

Many of them have disrupted public meetings and schools. They have been viciously vitriolic in their treatment of public health officers, city and county officials, school administrators and members of the media.

They have shamelessly displayed signs with slogans stolen from the pro-choice, abortion rights movement (“My body, my choice”). They have intimidated people on the streets and in the stores.

They deny reality. Some claim the pandemic is not real despite all evidence to the contrary. Others espouse ridiculous conspiracy theories like claiming the vaccines themselves spread the virus or that there are microchips in the vaccines.

They claim that they are not responsible for the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. If not them, who? Gremlins? Democrats?

They wave American flags around as if that justifies their disgraceful behavior. They claim to be “patriots.”

There is nothing patriotic about spreading disease to your fellow citizens.

By asserting their rights not to wear masks or get vaccinated, they have violated our right to public safety and health. They are the reason we can’t have nice things like indoor dining and live music and theater. They are the reason we still have to wear masks and physically distance.


And now the no-maskers and anti-vaxxers feel picked on? Somehow, I just can’t generate much sympathy for them … except for when they’re dying or long-hauling an oxygen tank wherever they go.

Then, I just feel sorry for them as human beings. I hate to see anybody suffer or die. They are proof that the more you ignore reality, the more reality bites.

I’m also sorry they believed and supported the corrupt politicians, medical quacks, conspiracy theorists, anti-government militants, and merchants of meds and merch who exploited them for their own nefarious gains and agendas.

Merch is slang for merchandise sold to promote a person or cause. Hats, T-shirts, flags, bumper stickers and you get the idea. There’s much money to be made selling to the faithful.

The money from merch, however, is pocket change compared to the alternatives-to-medicine industry. It’s good that some people are getting healthy in the hope or misguided belief that good health will make them immune.

It’s bad that some other people are buying into, and sometimes dying from, snake-oil remedies.

I do feel a special sympathy for the well-behaved unvaccinated people who wear their masks religiously and practice pandemic social parameters. Some unvaccinated people and kids under 12 genuinely can’t get vaccinated. Through no fault of their own, they can’t enjoy the privileges granted to those of us who are vaccinated.

Many others, for reasons beyond reason, choose not to get vaxxed. Several are friends of mine. I’ve given up trying to convince them, but I can’t give up worrying about them.

From all reports, COVID-19 is an agonizingly slow and painful death, and for some, survival is no blessing.


Pandemic skeptics point out that “only” 1% of COVID-19 patients actually die. Yeah, well that’s “only” 660,000 American deaths and counting.

What bothers me is how little attention is being paid to long-haul COVID-19. According to a March 30, report from UC Davis Health, anywhere from 27% to 33% of COVID-19 patients suffer post-disease maladies ranging from loss of smell and taste to permanent lung damage.

Brain fog, fatigue and severe headaches are also common symptoms of long-haul COVID-19, but the insidious illness has been known to damage hearts, nerves, kidneys and even the skin.

Remarkably, age, health and severity of the disease seem to have little relationship to the seriousness of long-haul COVID-19, the UC Davis report noted. Even long-haul patients who were asymptomatic can develop crippling disabilities.

If 660,000 dead people represent 1% of COVID-19 patients, the long-haul percentage extrapolates to somewhere between 17 million and 22 million people who survived but did not recover.

According to an April 15, story from the U.S. News & World Report, groups like the Long COVID Alliance and the Survivor Corps are emerging to demand Social Security and workers compensation benefits for people too injured by COVID-19 to go back to work any time soon, if ever.

“If they end up being a huge political force, then they can help force change in the disability system,” said Andy Imparato in the U.S. News report. He is executive director of Disability Rights California, a nonprofit legal services organization.

Talk about economic impact.

It’s easy to feel sorry for the true victims of COVID-19.

As for the unmasked and unvaxxed fanatics out there, God loves you, and I’m trying. Thanks for taking one for the herd, even if it disables or kills you.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County and a member of The Union Editorial Board. He may be contacted at

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