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Unmasking the Mask Masquerade: Hypocrisy, Double-Standards, and You!

ALPERN AT LARGE--It appears that Americans want to work. They also want to play, and protest, and all the sorts of things that free people want to do.

However, this pandemic shows that there is something that they may not WANT to do, and yet MUST do: physically distance themselves, wash their hands more, and--oh yes--wear a mask when they're around others! 

The outcry abounds about "President Trump not wearing a mask" and both Black Lives Matters protesters and right-wingers not wearing a mask. And it's a shame, because most Americans enduring this pandemic KNOW about the need to wear a mask, but that masks really aren't necessary when one is distanced far from others.

And we need to stop using the term "social distancing" and replace it with "physical distancing". Masks, as necessary as they are, remain an unpleasant and demeaning requirement that is anything but social ... yet one can remain social if six or more feet from others. 

This is true even if one is 10-12 feet away from others. The farther away from others, the less you need a mask. 

Hence, we see President Trump, Governor Newsom, Mayor Garcetti, Dr. Fauci, etc. all maskless when far away from those they speak to. But they all need to step up and encourage the "anti-maskers" to wear their doggone masks (and maybe even face-shields when near others.

A few key health points are needed to be emphasized here:

1) Masks protect others from you, in that they protect others from the viral particles we all fire into the air when breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, etc. Don't forget that even talking (more so when talking loudly) throws out viral particles.

2) Face shields that are high, low, and wide enough, protect your eyes, ears, and face from others, and are highly underutilized. Of note is that my medical group is now requiring masks AND face shields at the office and are separating the nurses and providers from each other.

3) Replacing masks regularly and washing face shields (both sides) are similarly needed to have them work in the way they're meant to work.

4) Washing hands, door handles, and other objects (like computer keyboards!) are also necessary to keep offices safe and able to work.

5) But prolonged close contact with others MUST be minimized, unless it's in safe spaces like your home, and after everyone has thrown their clothes in the washer, washed, and showered when coming home from work and/or errands. 

6) Letting your guard down when you arrive home (washing yourself and your clothes) will inevitably expose the entire household to whatever virus you have on your clothes, and that means either a Coronavirus or any other virus.

7) It should be reminded that most young folds will get the sniffles and feel sick but get over the virus, but both their elderly contacts must be remembered...and the fact that some young folks get strokes or other vascular/clotting health problems that can be life-altering! 

So now we see more cases of COVID-19 than before, and for several reasons--some unavoidable, and some entirely avoidable. Blaming Trump, blaming Newsom, blaming our Mayors...are all with some degree of truth...but what about YOU?

Yes, YOU.

1) As America gets back to work at record numbers, and with unemployment numbers falling faster than predicted, there is much to celebrate. But if the above efforts are not followed, then an inevitable rise in COVID-19 cases must ensue.

2) Not all rises in COVID-19 cases are as ominous as others. None of them are good! Yet kids and young adults getting them are far less concerning than the elderly who died by being thrown into nursing homes (way to "thin the herd", for those mayors who did that stupid stunt!).  

3) Most pediatricians, and even Dr. Fauci, recommend that we send kids back to school in any way we can--our children are being destroyed psychologically by the pandemic and they have to go back to school. Maybe some can't, but most MUST.

4) Fun fact: Enter any three-digit number and the words "New Cases" in a Google search, and you'll see something amazing! It's the stuff of conspiracy theories.

5) President Trump really SHOULD encourage MORE mask-wearing to allow MORE Americans to go back to work, but the suggestion that he is "anti-mask" isn't really true If you hate President Trump, then fine--but let's not lose our objectivity altogether.

6) The same mayors, such as our own Mayor Garcetti, who were so quick to cancel going to the beach, religious gatherings, etc. smashed their credibility by NOT loudly advocating for and enforcing the need to physically distance during the recent protests following the cruel death of George Floyd. 

7) That Garcetti and other mayors, so quick to create false narratives about their own police officers, need these same police to enforce physical distancing, mask wearing, and other vital health needs during this pandemic speaks volumes as to their own hypocrisy and inability to lead during a crisis.

8) Mayor DeBlasio of New York City is arguably the worst of the worst with respect to bad decision-making, but he's not the only one who harshly (and not always incorrectly) reduced religious gatherings while letting both subway ridership and protestors' physical clustering get out of control (always bad ideas!), but he's only the worst of the worst among our nations' virtue-signaling mayors and governors.

But what about YOU? Yes, YOU, reading this.

1) Are YOU one of those who want to go back into crowded bars? Really? Texas is perhaps the worst scenario for this, but Governor Newsom wasn't wrong to shut down all bars for now.

2) Are YOU an "anti-masker"? Are YOU an anti-vaxxer who would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine if or when it becomes available? Really?

3) Are YOU one of those protesting shoulder to shoulder? Because even with masks, unless you wear a face shield, you got exposed on the rest of your face. And let's not forget the inevitable virus on your clothes by marching amidst the screaming (and virus-emitting) all around you. 

COVID-19 cases are going up in both Democratic and Republican states because of shared stupidity.

Some of the stupidity is premised on our desire for freedom--the right to work, the right to socialize, and the right to protest and assemble (peacefully, of course).

But YOUR stupid is no less stupid than THE OTHER GUY/GAL'S stupid.

Be safe, not stupid. Your freedoms will increase, and so will your survival, if you use your head while following your heart. 

And don't ever stop following your heart!

(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 of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 8-9 years and is also a Westside Village Zone Director. He 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.)

-cw