Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 18, 2020

The sports bar louts endangering our lives

Filed under: COVID-19 — louisproyect @ 1:43 pm

Patrons wait for their orders to go at Caffe Dante bar and restaurant in Manhattan on March 19.(Victor J. Blue/Getty Images)

My wife and I take long walks for exercise. Two days ago, we put on our masks and walked over to Park Avenue, where since there are very few stores, you will see far fewer people on the streets. We walked down to 66th Street and decided to come back up on Third Avenue to our 92nd Street building, just for variety.

We were disconcerted to see clusters of mostly young men on the sidewalks in front of bars that remained open. You obviously couldn’t go into the bar, as will possible in 48 states pretty soon, but you were able to purchase a drink and imbibe it on the sidewalk.

We noticed that most of the men had let their masks (if they had been wearing ones) drop down to their neck for obvious reasons. You can’t down a beer with a mask on. In several of these sites, you could hear the conversation from a distance of 30 feet away as you were advancing toward them. One suspects that if you’ve had two or three beers or hard drinks, you tend to get louder and even more so if you are trying to speak over the traffic noise.

I don’t want to stereotype people (well, maybe I do) but the young men who patronize these kinds of sports bars tend to be louts. Fraternity boys who could give less of a shit about how their actions impact others. Scientists have discovered that speaking is one of the most effective ways to transmit COVID-19. They have also made clear that wearing masks, other than N95 qualified, does not protect you from being infected.

The NY Times reported on this four days ago. I would only quibble with the notion that masks can protect you:

Coughs or sneezes may not be the only way people transmit infectious pathogens like the novel coronavirus to one another. Talking can also launch thousands of droplets so small they can remain suspended in the air for eight to 14 minutes, according to a new study.

The research, published Wednesday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help explain how people with mild or no symptoms may infect others in close quarters such as offices, nursing homes, cruise ships and other confined spaces. The study’s experimental conditions will need to be replicated in more real-world circumstances, and researchers still don’t know how much virus has to be transmitted from one person to another to cause infection. But its findings strengthen the case for wearing masks and taking other precautions in such environments to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Despite my dim view of young men who patronize sports bars, I believe that they are less of a threat on the streets of NY than their counterparts in places like Texas, Alabama, Iowa, and Wyoming who now have the freedom to contract COVID-19 even if it results in nothing worse than the hangover they are accustomed to. But anybody over 60 who comes into contact with them could well be among the tens of thousands of casualties epidemiologists predict will take place between now and July first.

I was not the only person who was taken aback by this spectacle. The mayor, who I used to rub shoulders with at Nicaragua Network meetings in the late 80s, is pissed off about what’s going on. I reproduce the NY Daily News article on this that appeared today:

Mayor de Blasio promised strict enforcement after throngs of New Yorkers were spotted carousing and quaffing cold ones on the Upper East Side Saturday night.

“I’m not comfortable at all with people congregating outside bars,” Hizzoner said at a Sunday press conference.

“If you start to form groups of people and then, you know, two, three, five and then it becomes six, it becomes 10, it becomes 15 — that violates what we’re saying about social distancing,” he continued.

The NYPD was unable to provide stats about any arrests or fines given out during the revelry, which was caught on social media and in news reports.

Images showed people buying drinks, forming crowds and blatantly disregarding social-distancing rules — the same guidelines that led to a string of controversial, violent arrests in communities of color.

Faced with widespread outrage over those tactics, de Blasio on Friday said police would stop giving tickets to people who don’t wear face masks in public unless there was a “serious danger.”

But he promised Sunday the NYPD would enforce social-distancing rules on the affluent Upper East Side and elsewhere.

“We had a particular problem there,” Hizzoner said. “We’re not going to tolerate people starting to congregate.”

At least one UES restaurant served customers on premises, a blatant violation of March’s statewide emergency order, according to NBC New York.

“If we have to shut places down, we will if they’re starting to violate these rules,” de Blasio said.



  1. People in this country want what they want. And for the most part, they don’t give a damn about others. Basic solidarity is an alien concept to young and old. It’s not that there is none. But even globally, there is an enormous middle class, comprised of those who can’t consume enough. Whose behavior is often loutish. I know one thing. I am 74, and I am pretty certain that a young person that I confronted over something like not wearing a mask would not hesitate to threaten me physically. Same goes for a person in his 40s or 50s. It’s a pretty sick country overall, from coast to coast.

    Comment by Michael D Yates — May 18, 2020 @ 2:04 pm

  2. The loutish and selfish behavior is everywhere indeed. I frequently have to change directions in a grocery store, when seeing a non-masked person walking in my direction. Up to 50% of people with the virus are asymptomatic. They’re spreading the virus around while they feel healthy.

    Then throw in the “Liberty” bullshit, and you get armed gangs invading state houses demanding that their right to die (and kill others) be respected. The selfish individualism of the mythic American is being stirred right up to the boiling point by the Trump gang. Maybe they’re preparing for a soft civil war of sorts. It’s pretty sick.

    One point about wearing a mask though: It is not to prevent the person wearing the mask from getting the virus. It is to prevent the person wearing the mask from *spreading* it by talking, breathing, coughing, etc. In that same study pointed out by Louis, it is stated that the louder you talk the farther your speech aerosols will travel. So, maybe those louts talking loudly and chugging their beers will eventually get a taste of what it’s like to get the COVI-19. Problem is, they’ll have sickened tons of other people in the meantime.

    Comment by Reza — May 18, 2020 @ 3:02 pm

  3. That should have been COVID-19 (not COVI-19).

    US lockdown protests may have spread virus widely, cellphone data suggests

    Comment by Reza — May 18, 2020 @ 3:13 pm

  4. Some fucking idiot tried to troll this article using a proxy server. For him and any other piece of shit troll’s information, if you’ve never commented here before, your post is held in a queue. I won’t release it unless if you are using a proxy server. Don’t waste your time or mine.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 18, 2020 @ 4:40 pm

  5. Have drink, relax.

    Comment by halborn — May 18, 2020 @ 5:10 pm

  6. The wheels are coming off the wagon. People think that COVID-19 is done and gone. Here in Sacramento, the seriousness of purpose of late March and early April has disappeared. Few masks, inconsistent social distancing and more and more gatherings. Restaurants are now open for limited dine in service. Furthermore, there is, as I suspect is the case elsewhere, no will to enforce what remains of the stay at home order. It has been reduced to voluntarism. We have escaped the horrors of the virus so far but I worry that it may yet strike us hard.

    The social bonds of people in other countries in Asia and Africa, in particular, that have helped those countries contain the virus are absent in the US. As soon as conservative whites heard that the victims were disproportionately African American, POC, the elderly and the working class, they were out in the streets demanding that stay at home restrictions be lifted. The concept of acting communally in the defense of people other than themselves, especially non-white people and working people, is not only foreign to them, but offensive to them, it angers them, it spurs them to action. Or course, they can get COVID-19, too, but, demographically, they are less likely to get seriously ill and die from it. They know this, and are willing to take the chance of getting infected, dying and infecting and killing others. They act as if being required to wear a mask is some kind of terrible constraint upon their personal freedoms.

    Disturbingly, there is no political will among elected political figures to challenge them. Instead, they respond by accelerating the reopening their states without meeting the standards they originally set for it. At this point, my only hope is that the late spring and summer heat might slow the spread of the virus.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 23, 2020 @ 7:33 pm

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