An intentional social and epidemiological experiment

Back in the day, mutations causing disease were called experiments of nature, something I thought cruel because as a budding chemist I regarded experiments as something intentional, and mutations occuring outside the lab are anything but intentional.

Massachusetts entered an intentional social and epidemiological experiment today. I hope it turns out well, but I seriously doubt it.

Unvaccinated people are ‘urged’ to wear masks. The state “advises all unvaccinated residents to continue to wear masks in indoor settings and when they can’t socially distance.” Lots of luck with that.

So I went to the working class cafe where I get coffee every day. A place where irony is unknown. In a 25 – 25 foot space (my guess) were 50 people in 6 booths and about 6 tables, none wearing masks. I doubt that all were vaccinated. Fortunately the cafe staff has all been vaccinated.

The cafe is in an old building with at most a 9 foot ceiling. Service was likely slow because of the crowd. So they’d likely spend 30 – 60 minutes breathing each other’s air, a perfect way to transmit the virus if any of the 50 would be infected. For details please see

The clientele is not a healthy lot, and I’d estimate that 40% of those present had BMIs over 30.

For some reason the classic editor won’t let me put in links. So I’m publishing this as is.

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  • Peter Shenkin  On May 31, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    Current NYC regulations specify no occupancy limit within restaurants, but require 6′ spacing OR 5′ partitions between the tables. To the extent that inside dining has been permitted, nobody in NYC has ever been required to wear a mask while seated with their party, vaccinated or not. The staff has always worn masks and masks are required when walking around; for instance, arriving, departing and going to the bathroom. And of course, in your situation, a lot depends on the fraction of those present who have been vaccinated. But except for the distancing OR partitions, what you describe sounds very much like what any restaurant in NYC would look like today. Except in NYC, the older buildings would be the ones with the high ceilings….

  • John Wayne  On June 3, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Looking into restaurants makes me feel like I’m watching a train crash into a gorge. God … please let us be somehow wrong.

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