SouthCoasters, the walls are closing in on those of you who have opted out of the COVID-19 vaccination program. The government says the Delta variant is spreading rapidly, and it's all your fault.

In announcing a reversal of earlier guidance for mask-wearing, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said, "We still largely are in a pandemic of the unvaccinated." Walensky added that all of this "could have been avoided" if more Americans had been vaccinated.

Fox News Channel stooge Geraldo Rivera went so far as to say you don't have a right to be unvaccinated.

"I do not believe my body, my choice when it comes to the damn vaccine. I want you to be vaccinated and if you are not vaccinated you have to have a reason like immunocompromised." Rivera said. "If you are unvaccinated and you are going around without being tested, you are an arrogant, selfish SOB." Whoa!

When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy questioned the wisdom of the CDC again recommending masks even for the fully vaccinated in some cases, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called him a "moron."

The strategy appears to be one of vilifying those who have opted not to vaccinate. By recommending some fully vaccinated people return to wearing masks and blaming the unvaxed for it, the CDC is pitting one group against another in hopes the unvaxed will see the light and seek a vaccine. Divide and conquer. If this is a strategy designed to get more people to join the jab fest, I think it is flawed.

The Mitchell Administration said going back to a mask requirement in New Bedford "is not planned, but not ruled out." Spokesman Jon Carvalho told me the administration's priority is "encouraging vaccinations and making them easy and convenient to get."

School Department spokesman Arthur Motta told me Superintendent Thomas Anderson has had no announcements about masks since the CDC's advisory on Tuesday.

The unvaccinated have a right to sit this out should they choose, but they don't have a right to expect the vaccinated and those who have tested positive for COVID to mask up again to protect them. It is up to them to wear a mask to protect themselves. As always, we should respect each other's decisions on the vaccination question.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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