Back in the old days — March 2020 — I used to think that a virus doesn’t care why you’re spreading it. That was why the people in charge told me to stay at home. They said the tens of millions of lost jobs were an unfortunate but necessary consequence of the lockdown. They told me to wear a mask if I had to go out, after telling me in no uncertain terms not to wear a mask. They told me a lot of things that seemed important at the time.
Then I turned on the news one day and saw massive rallies in major cities. I saw people standing shoulder to shoulder, often screaming into each other’s faces. I saw elected leaders marching alongside these people, after those same leaders had just spent months hectoring and prosecuting business owners for trying to preserve their livelihoods. I saw rioting and looting. I saw all sorts of public behavior that was suddenly accepted, if not outright celebrated, by our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters in the media.
It was enough to make me start wondering if maybe the virus does care why people are ignoring the rules. If you’re breaking the lockdown and ignoring social distancing for the right reasons, then the virus won’t get you. That must be it. If you’re one of the good guys and not one of the deplorables, you’re immune to the virus. If you believe the things you’re supposed to believe, if you express the political opinions you’re permitted to express, the disease just ignores you. That’s how it works, right?
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Ashley Taylor Bronczek, one of Washington’s social stars, decided to throw a party after the Washington Ballet’s online fundraiser, which she co-chaired. The June 18 gala was a huge success, raising more than $800,000 — the top sponsors were her generous in-laws, David and Judy Bronczek. To celebrate the occasion, she hosted a catered dinner for a couple dozen friends in the backyard of her Spring Valley home. It was, by all accounts, a picture-perfect night chronicled on (per usual) her Instagram account.
Then Bronczek, 37, was diagnosed with covid-19, along with a few other guests at the event…
Technically, the dinner violated the District’s Phase 1 guidelines, which prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people…
It is, of course, unclear how or when Bronczek contracted the virus and who she may have passed it to, and there’s no reason to believe she knew she had it. But within hours of the dinner, she began showing symptoms and was diagnosed shortly thereafter. Others who sat at her table are rumored to have also tested positive but did not return calls or declined to comment.
Bronczek didn’t inform the guests of her diagnosis right away because she was “fearful of the social fallout.” In the middle of a global pandemic.
Oh, and if you want to see the pictures of the event on her Instagram page, which seems to be her entire reason for throwing the party in the first place, you can’t because she locked it down.
The virus doesn’t care how rich Bronczek is, or who her friends are, or how much money she raised for the ballet, or anything else. It’s a virus. It spreads. That’s what viruses do.
I hope Bronczek and her party guests recover, and I hope they didn’t spread it to too many other people. The same thing goes for all the people out there in the streets right now, risking the virus because #BlackLivesMatter more than keeping Grandma safe does. That’s all I can do: hope.
And if and when my hopes are dashed, I can rest assured that the whole thing will be my fault.
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