Unmasking the Mask Controversy

ALPERN AT LARGE--While it's entirely understandable to acknowledge that people act--and react-- in fear, as time goes by the need to "keep it together" and "think clearly and calmly" is greater than ever.

But it's a different world today than it was in February, March, or even April--and both sides of the masking/reopening the economy are looking inappropriate at their extremes.

They need to stop--virtually all thinking Americans know we've got to keep a lid on the death and illness associated with the COVID-19 virus, but the realization that we ALL have human RIGHTS and ALL have civic RESPONSIBILITIES must be adhered to. In short:

1) The need to be masked when around others is VITAL and ESSENTIAL, but the need to be masked has been IMPOSED on us unfairly by a Chinese Communist government that knew what was happening in its own nation, and has so much blood on its hands that it's hard to grasp. 

2) Of course, the Chinese Communist government (not its suffering people, but its government) doesn't care about its own people, let alone the rights and lives of others throughout the world. Those in this nation who don't realize we have been attacked, either directly or indirectly, are deluding themselves.

2) Those who think the mask requirement, and all the social distancing and impacts to business and our economy--to say nothing of our way of life, and quality of life--is nonsense come across as cruel and reckless. 

3) Those who are happy to keep people on lockdown indefinitely, and not just the immediate plan of preventing our hospitals from being overwhelmed look just as cruel and reckless.

4) Perhaps those demanding that small businesses be shut down indefinitely, and are getting salaries, can be willing to give up 25 - 50% of their salaries because, well, we're all in this together, right? And I assure you that the definition of "essential worker" differs considerably among Americans of all races, socioeconomic status, and geographies.

But again, both of the more extremist elements on each side are just...doing...it...wrong! And they're pissing off most Americans who "get it":

1) For those marching without masks, and clustering together about how (insert the name of your favorite governor here) is violating everyone's rights, you're proving the other side right (was that your intent?) because it shows you don't "get it" about how this virus is more than "just another flu" in ways we don't always see. What's wrong with protesting WITH masks to reopen the economy?

2) And for those governors who are treating urban and rural areas alike, and acting like dictators by locking down people in their homes without legal/constitutional mandate, you're no better You're proving the other side right, too--you don't want safety, you want control!

3) And for any mayor who loves doing planning and transportation initiatives by fiat (we're looking at you, Emperor Eric Garcetti!) you better start opening up your press conferences and closed-door meetings to Angelenos. NO ONE BELIEVES you, Emperor Eric, when you say you don't want to turn Los Angeles into a police state (LINK: https://deadline.com/2020/05/l-a-coronavirus-update-mayor-eric-garcetti-says-i-dont-want-to-turn-los-angeles-into-some-sort-of-police-state-1202934246/).

4) And for those "expert doctors" who love the spotlight and power, and create havoc by suggesting stupid ideas like locking LA County down until July 31st (LINK: https://deadline.com/2020/05/l-a-county-coronavirus-dr-barbara-ferrer-1202933922/?fbclid=IwAR1ZY3aO7EWGs12uIvfWDYEUXxHIXk7q8EHbtuCHcJLwd3hzr7SPYDX6240), let's make it clear that doctors as a whole recognize the need for SAFETY and the difference between "Medically Necessary" treatments and policies versus "Experimental/Investigational/Unproven".

5) Some counties are ready to open up more than others, and some areas within a given city or county are also ready to open up more than others. Not willy-nilly, but let's not treat things in May like we were forced to do in March. Things keep changing, and we can be both cautious and flexible at the same time.

6) Considering how this state treats homeless and prisoners with more love and money than law-abiding Angelenos, it's curious how Governor Newsom is focusing more on giving money to those here illegally, and letting out way too many from prison, while giving his political opponents way too many speaking/talking points. 

Seriously, Governor Newsom, are you TRYING to create a Republican resurgence in California?

So, let's not ruin the credibility of those fighting for our rights back by acting as if there is NO threat. 

Similarly, let's not ruin the credibility of keeping us safe by presuming that all people, and all ages, and all individuals with differing immune status, must be treated the same.

We need to fight to get our economy back, just as much as we need to fight to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus to a manageable level. 

We're on the verge of doing BOTH, in large part WITHOUT the leadership of the local, state, or federal governments. We did it as American citizens...so can we keep doing it...as American citizens ensconced in the rights and principles of what makes our nation so first-rate, and able to survive and thrive beyond these terrible challenges?


(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was (termed out) also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of its Planning Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)