I do not enjoy wearing a mask.
But on the flip side I don’t want to see my neighbors inflicted with long-term damage either from COVID-19 or from economic carnage.
I am also fairly pragmatic in that we are all going to die sometime and the fact things beyond our control such as DNA and even things in our control that we refuse to follow such as when we are diabetic can play a heavy hand in early death.
I get risk whether it is bicycling without a helmet or driving without a seatbelt.
What I don’t get is stupidity.
It is clear the wearing of masks in specific indoor and outdoor settings as outlined in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate that everyone in the state needs to do is the best defense we have not simply against spreading COVID-19 but triggering government decisions to reverse the re-opening.
Like it or not courts, for the most part, have upheld Newsom’s emergency authority. But here’s the kicker — even if you believe the courts ultimately do decide against the governor very few of us have the time or financial wherewithal to wait on the judicial system.
Forget about whether face masks will protect your physical health. As the decisions in the last few days show to reverse parts of the reopening, they can protect your financial health.
And how the state has gone about reopening it is clear they are not free from fault in people not embracing the wearing of masks.
All state agencies and officials in communications and postings need to stick with the bluntest language possible which is calling the emergency mask rule a “mandate” and not spinning it with the focus group mentality of softening the intent by using mushy words such as “guidance.”
Do I care what “officials” and health care experts have said previously about masks that are contrary to the current situation? Yes.
But I also know at one time this nation’s health experts extolled the virtues of such things as cigarette smoking and drinking the magic elixir of days gone by such as the original 19th century version of Coca-Cola. They also can be all over the board about things such as cyclamates and gluten as the years unfold.
I do not take the word of health care professionals as gospel especially when they tell you to lose weight and clearly have a much bigger gut than you. But I do weigh what they say and definitely give it more credence if they practice what they preach.
So if physicians and health care experts that have extolled the virtues of wearing masks to combat COVID-19 have appeared in media without them at some point during the pandemic should their advice be dismissed outright? No.
That rationale is based on one of the most consistent healthcare practices of the past century — the wearing of masks around the most vulnerable patients whether they are in surgery or newborns.
The goal of basic face masks and not those such as N95s has always been to prevent the spread of viruses.
The objective we now face cannot be one where society can start functioning again until COVID-19 spikes, surges, and outbreaks are all history. Nor can it be one that makes the economy the absolute most important thing.
We are in a pandemic. If people invested a quarter of the time they spend on social media posturing one way or another about face masks and COVID-19 and researched established history/medical sites or, heaven forbid, read actual scholarly books about pandemics dating back to the 1200s as boring as they maybe because they aren’t in the same league as cat videos or footage of people toppling statutes, they might grasp a bid of what we are up against.
Pandemics are not one and done things. They unfold over multiple years and stick with mankind on some level as the years unfold. We are so smug in thinking this is 2020 and the fact we have 2,000 times the computing power in our pocket of a computer that once filled an entire floor that we forget we are not invincible and that nature wedded with time is a far greater force than even an arsenal of atomic weapons.
Pandemics essentially go away when we become comfortable with the losses in terms of the number of people that get ill and die in a given year or during a spike.
Early on in the pandemic, as I entered a room for a meeting with public officials I was offered a mask. The person handing it to me noted that it had been made from cloth imprinted with a replica of the United States Constitution.
Without missing a beat the words “well, I least you’re not yet tearing up the Constitution” came out of my mouth.
This triggered some chuckles from others in the room. The meeting went ahead without my wearing a mask and without anyone getting in anybody’s face.
That was back in March. If the same thing happened today I’d say the same thing but I would wear the mask.
The big difference besides it being a recommendation three months ago and a state requirement today is the luxury of perspective.
I have no desire to play a role — even how miniscule of one person not wearing a mask — in collapsing the economy. And just like I wouldn’t cough on someone, I also don’t want to be one of those people who may indeed have COVID-19, never show symptoms or become ill, and unwittingly passes it on to someone else who might be sickened or succumb from the virus.
I view the mask mandate that will disappear when we have some level of control over COVID-19 and become comfortable with the statistics that it generates in term of those who are sick and die as a necessary evil of being part of a viable and functional civilized state of 40 million people.
It is akin to why most of us can honestly say we don’t speed most of the time or do not execute rolling stops most of the time.
We do so not because the law may make sense at that given moment especially if the streets are devoid of vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. We have been conditioned to be self-compliant most of the time due to the overall concept of road safety.
Part of it is out of concern of injuring others and part of it is the financial consequences of possibly getting a ticket.
Rarely is it because we fear for our own safety unless we have a close call that will bring such a concern to the forefront for a time.
Yet we comply. Why?
It is part of the unwritten pact of obligations we have to ourselves that may lean heavily on financial viability and to others in a desire to do no harm.
Adhering to reasonable rules for the common good and safety is not an un-American act nor does it subject us to tyranny. It makes us part of something bigger than ourselves — civilization.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.