Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 149

To Mask or Not to Mask on Broadway: With a Break in the 1/6 Hearings, That is Still a Question

To mask or not to mask? What do you think?

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

As I take a bit of a break to digest the testimony of Carissa Hutchinson in the 1/6 Congressional Hearing, my wife Rusti and I are on our way to New York for our 54th anniversary. Hutchinson’s comments remind me of how the front desk clinic staff could provide crucial revelations about our patients and each other. In the meanwhile, due to the Goldwater Rule, instead of psychiatrists, we will hear from the media about the possible meaning of the former President’s behavior. Stay tuned for my commentary after July 4th, our country’s anniversary of independence.

Among our anniversary planned activities are to see one of our favorite musicals, “The Music Man,” starring Hugh Jackson. We plan to still wear our masks on the airplane, both for our own safety and that of others.

But what about Broadway? We are both vaccinated and double-boosted.

Tomorrow, the requirement to wear masks at plays is lifted, making it a mask-optional policy. That leaves it us up to us. We know that those halls are not as well-ventilated as airplanes. Just about 2 weeks ago, 6 out of 11 cast members of the acclaimedplay “The Minutes” were out for COVID reasons.

Recently, the 7-day average in New York City of COVID has been more than 10 times it was a year ago. Yet, masking is reduced, as if people are concluding in denial that it is more normal again, or emotionally fatigued from masking. Nevertheless, it is clear now that if we all had socially masked more earlier in the pandemic, we would have saved lives and illness.

Speculation for the change is that it is for money reasons, that they are losing money requiring masks. That actually seemed to happen at our symphony hall after a poll of the audience. The mask requirement was removed and attendance went up. Nowadays, we in health care are all familiar with how for-profit managed care business decisions can preempt medical ones.

Hugh Jackson himself has been out for positive tests twice during the show’s run. There is no guarantee there cannot be a third time, and no guarantee he will not develop long symptoms, even if his acute illness is mild.

We have already decided. We will mask in the theatre. Even the healing powers of music cannot prevent COVID. That should bring a little music to the music man, Hugh Jackman.

But before that, on our anniversary day, we also celebrate the last day of Gay Pride Month by seeing Taylor Mac.

Then the day after, July 2nd, we go to see “Hamlet,” that timeless Shakespeare play of political and family intrigue, and hear his question, “To be or not to be?” We will be masked there, too.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.