Behavior Matters Too

Differential vaccine uptake is clearly playing a dominant in COVID severity across the country. But I also think behavior – including but not limited to masks – is playing a bigger role that some imagine. From TPM Reader RS

I realize that this anecdotal, but our family travelled from MN to TX and back a couple months ago. We were two fully-vaccinated adults (Pfizer) and an unvaccinated under 12-year old. Because of that we played it very safe. At the time, people in the Twin Cities were still masking everywhere. Even in the part of TX where we went we saw 50-60% of people masked in stores and gas station.

However, in our one stop in OK and one in KS about 33% were masked. But, in MO, I don’t think we saw a mask. We spent the night in a hotel in Joplin, MO. We got in late and very few restaurants were open. The Waffle House wouldn’t let you take food out (?!) so we went elsewhere. But we noticed one thing… The Waffle House was PACKED. Like a subway car in Tokyo. Lots of motorcycles in the parking lot. And, if you know anything about a packed Waffle House late at night, that means people have been to bars. Meanwhile, no one in the hotel was masked. No one at a gas station was masked. And there were more people out than we would have thought. When we got back to the Twin Cities, there were still few people out and most of them were masked. From that point on I paid attention to MO and I’ve been watching from afar, unsurprised, that their number just kept going up and up. Actions matter.

I want to remind everyone that over the course of 2020 we had different points when different parts of the country were hit hard. Each time could become evidence in some tendentious storyline. We shouldn’t be sure this pattern is the end of the story. But behavior certainly plays a substantial role in how this is playing out. And low vaccine uptake in most cases tracks indifference to mitigation.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Edblog
  • |
    September 30, 2022 1:26 p.m.

    It’s interesting to step back sometimes and consider the possible big pictures of our times. These connections won’t be new…

  • |
    September 30, 2022 10:26 a.m.

    A series of polls out of Wisconsin show why you simply cannot ever count Ron Johnson out, unfortunately. Johnson has…

  • |
    September 29, 2022 6:20 p.m.

    Do take a moment to read Josh Kovensky’s report here on Judge Cannon’s latest order. It’s hard to capture just…

  • |
    September 29, 2022 4:32 p.m.

    A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss a charcuterie tray of…

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: