Let’s admit there is something about face mask requirements that really doesn’t add up.
Some of you won’t agree, but most people understand that masks offer some degree of protection. You can argue about how much, but would you be happy if your surgeon and OR staff were not masked? Of course not.
Although the presence of germs was speculated as early as 100BC, Louis Pasteur gets credit for popularizing the idea of unseen danger in the air and how humans could protect themselves.
The People In Charge — meaning the Centers for Disease Control, Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, academics, pundits and physicians of all stripes — has been all over the lot.
Very early on we were told by the PIC, nah, don’t use face masks, they don’t help. Six months later we were told they would save more lives than a vaccine and were mandatory in many places.
When masks were first pooh-poohed, I suggested the government was caught flat-footed, there weren’t enough masks for hospital workers and there was fear the people who needed them most would not get them. I bought a few and started wearing them. And I still do, although I don’t think they are our version of magic underwear.
All along, without question, the Trump Administration has been downplaying everything connected with COVID-19. I will not recap all of President Donald J. Trump’s crazy statements because I don’t intend this to be partisan.
When I first tackled the subject of coronavirus in March, the projection of the PIC was for a potential American death toll of 3 million. However you feel about the president’s actions, we haven’t lost 10% of that number, and while the fight goes on, we are unlikely to get anywhere near that horrible total.
We are closing in on 220,000 dead, and we are spiking right now, so the worst has not passed as we head into flu season. Most PIC agree on this.
And — guess what? The World Health Organization, one of the worst of the PIC, is now saying lockdowns are not necessary, except as a last resort, which is what most conservatives were saying all along.
Maybe they were right.
Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson keeps ringing the bell for Sweden, one of the rare countries to gut it out with no lockdown. Carlson portrays Sweden’s death toll as a little higher than its neighbors. He does not admit it is six times higher than Denmark and 10 times higher than Finland.
That is a major difference.
Here, Trump has and does oppose shutdowns. Why? Perhaps simple patriotism, perhaps because a crippled economy hurts him politically.
After shutdowns of various lengths and severity across the nation, the screws were slowly loosened, with states requiring certain levels, and with municipalities often imposing different rules.
Philadelphia restaurants, under Mayor Jim Kenney’s orders, opened slower than restaurants in the rest of the commonwealth, under Gov. Tom Wolf’s order.
Orders coming from different authorities resulted in unequal applications that were expressed in a meme that showed a full airline cabin contrasted with empty pews in a church.
I flew to Florida last week and was shocked to find my American Airlines flights completely filled, including the middle seats in coach. So, yeah, airline traffic may be down by two-thirds, but airlines just grounded most of their planes, leaving the few flying to be full. Face masks are required to board a plane, and also required in the airport, irrespective of the usual social distancing requirement of 6 feet (which PIC now tells us is inadequate).
Since there can be no social distancing in the planes, I wore a face shield in addition to my face mask. AA did offer a snack, and drinks, which requires passengers to lower their masks, exposing them to harm. A brief exposure is less dangerous than a long exposure, but it is still a risk.
That brings me to the reason I travelled to Florida — to attend the bar mitzvah of my grandnephew, the son of my favorite niece. My attendance was, in essence, a command performance.
The religious ceremony was held outdoors, with seating on straight back chairs that could be moved, so that family units could group together and apart from others. People called up to the head table to join the service often removed their masks to be heard, and for the photographer.
The reception, and lunch, was indoors, with guests seated at tables of eight, more than six feet apart. But you can’t eat with a mask on, so off they came.
While some tables were composed of people who live together, others were not. I sat with my sister and brother-in-law, plus two of their neighbors. I love my sister and brother-in-law, but loved ones are just as likely to infect you as strangers. The virus does not have a family exception.
I kept my mask on, in the high heat and humidity, for the outdoor ceremony, but removed it inside, which was air-conditioned. Wearing them, and not wearing them, with the same group of people is what I meant when I said things really don’t add up. It is one example.
So what do we do, especially when the PIC often gets things wrong, then corrects them as more is learned about the COVID-19 plague?
What I do is follow the best advice of the best people at the moment in which I live, knowing the advice is subject to change. It seems wiser than ignoring the advice of the PIC because I don’t like it.
I don’t like it when my doctor tells me to lose weight, but I am trying to do it.