Don Mosier, MD, PhD | Rimini Road
Wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when you are less than 6 feet from someone not in your family is a uniform recommendation of health professionals. It is also important for the reopening of essential retail establishments, but enforcement of the mask rule by retail employees has had unfortunate consequences including being shot to death and suffering a broken arm (reported in the New York Times, May 16th edition). Freedom to spread a deadly virus (or expose yourself and your family to the disease) is a right, just like your right to carry a gun? Public health recommendations are now a political issue instead of good advice that should benefit all of us? What gives and what’s happening in Del Mar?
Most visitors to Del Mar are not wearing masks even though our beach entrances are crowded and few of our sidewalks are wider than 5 feet. Patrons without masks are picking up takeout food from our local restaurants. Most but not all restaurant employees are wearing masks, but few seem willing to ask their customers to mask up or leave. It is both unfair and potentially dangerous to ask our local employees to be the mask enforcers of last resort. The longer we let the virus spread in our community, the more personal and financial impacts will be prolonged. Los Angeles has issued an order requiring everyone outside to wear a mask. We may need a similar local order to keep us all safe and make sure that everyone understands the rules.
I have no sympathy for the argument that some are enlightened, independent citizens who are free to ignore “government regulations.” I am reminded of similar arguments about smoking in public or wearing motorcycle helmets. I am free to harm myself and I’m not hurting anyone else, was the refrain. Except that second-hand smoke had lethal consequences and riding helmetless kept the transplant surgeons happy but drove up insurance costs for everyone else. Going without a mask at this time is not a personal or political statement, it is risky behavior that threatens all of us. If we really want to reopen retail establishments, wear a mask and take the responsibility away from the employees and put it where it belongs, with you!
Be like those masked strangers at the Farmer’s Market!!