Friday, July 17, 2020

Masks play a critical part in the fight to stay healthy with COVID-19

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers wear their masks for their daily bike rides, here on to a masked gathering
with proper social distancing at a friend who lives in the neighborhood.  Small masked gatherings help ease the isolation.
Bruce Keller's post-transplant blood work is necessary,
and the blood draws are conducted by masked technicians.




WE BELIEVE in science and the power of great medical minds to find a vaccine to combat COVID-19.  The two of us lined up as grade school children for our polio shots in the 1950s, and both knew friends afflicted with the disease.
Today's virulent virus is our polio.
Masks are essential at airports, here LAX, where extreme
caution is taken by some, both workers and passengers.
It distresses us that some question the need to wear a mask.
It's a matter of life and death, especially for people like us who are considered "high risk."  That's because in May of 2017, Bruce Keller underwent successful liver transplantation.
This column's talented photographer is recovering nicely, but because of the necessary anti-rejection drugs, his immune system is compromised.
A masked Bruce Keller picks out produce at a San Diego market.
Most businesses monitor entrances to enforce masking.
That makes him vulnerable, along with millions of others who have underlying health conditions. This includes our niece, who has Type I diabetes, a neighbor who is in cancer treatment, elderly friends in nursing facilities, a brother with COPD, and many more.
THERE IS PLENTY of data out there to convince us all to "mask up."  Two compelling case reports suggest that masks can prevent transmission even in high-risk scenarios. In one case, a man flew from China to Toronto and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.  He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight. All 25 people closest to him on the plane tested negative for the virus.
In another case, two hair stylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients before they knew they had COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask, though, and not a single client tested positive.
WE USUALLY avoid politics in this column, but we are sad to see the mask issue being made political when it is simply a matter of science, health and common decency.
Home Depot purchases take a bit longer with distancing.
But both customers and staff are respectfully masking.
Research and scientific facts show that the virus spreads through the respiratory system.  Sneezing, coughing, even talking and singing can spread it.  Our chances of being exposed -- or exposing -- are greatly multiplied if we don't wear masks or encounter unmasked people.
So we mask up whenever we go out -- to stores, to the doctor, on errands of all kinds.
Asians have been wearing masks for decades, to protect themselves and others.
Since it is possible for a person to spread the COVID-19 virus without actually having symptoms, the mask becomes key in preventing an affected person from endangering an innocent person with whom he makes contact.
CASES ARE spiking, in both states we call home.  In California, the beaches and restaurants opened a few weeks ago then many closed again, when during Memorial Day and Fourth of July, people abused the distancing protocol and new cases were documented at an alarming rate. In my native Montana, where many don't mask, numbers have risen exponentially. Finally, just this week on July 15, Gov. Bullock mandated that masks be worn. Good news for us, as we plan a trip back.  Researchers predict that if 80 per cent of us were to wear masks, we could
A man doing his banking must wait for
the security guard to authorize his entrance

so that social distancing is enforced. Small
offices and cafes monitor the numbers.

greatly  reduce COVID-19 spread.  It would be more effective in accomplishing this than a strict lockdown. 
Aside from following state and medical edicts, shouldn't a mask be worn as a matter of respect, of being a good citizen?  In many states, including here in California, wearing a mask in public means adhering to the law.
Lenin Gutierrez made news when he declined to serve
an unmasked Starbucks patron in San Diego.
Her indignant FaceBook post backfired.

A conscientious father helps his children get into their masks before
a shopping expedition in San Diego where it's a requirement to wear masks.

One recent news piece hit home.  Just two blocks away from us, a Starbucks barista, Lenin Gutierrez made international news a couple weeks ago when he stood his ground with a female customer who defied the mask edict and entered the coffee shop without wearing a mask. When the clerk  offered her a mask, she declined and became verbally abusive.  So he refused to serve her -- she stormed out, cursing at him, causing a scene, then returning to take his photo, threaten him and continue the verbal abuse. 
A reader of her subsequent FaceBook post was unsympathetic to her. He started a GoFundMe "tip jar" for  Gutierrez, an aspiring dancer.  Quickly, it raised over $20,000  for the young man who was simply following company policy when he challenged the woman.
IF WE ALL wear masks, we could kick the virus numbers way down.    The latest forecast from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that 33,000 deaths could be avoided by Oct. 1, if  95 per cent of us wore masks in public.
I DON'T ENJOY wearing my mask.
Shoppers in San Diego wear masks.

A security guard keeps an eye on the crowd flow
in this San Diego store, and also prevents hoarding.
I wear glasses and the masks make seeing and breathing difficult.  But I do it -- for many reasons including health, courtesy, and concern. Most of us have never had to wear a mask -- certainly not when shopping or running through the park.  I'm a fourth generation Montanan, and independence and even rebellion are an accepted -- sometimes admired -- way of life. But folks, this is not about your "rights."  It's about health. And you don't have the "right" to potentially infect me. So let's think of masks not as forced conformity, but as an important and necessary act of solidarity.
Wearing a mask might stop one unknowing person from infecting another innocent person.  That person could be me, a loved one -- or you! 
And if you want to make a surgical mask even safer:

Hotels are opening to new, strictly monitored hygiene protocol. Here
Hilton Palm Springs awaits travelers, with new healthy procedures.

UP NEXT: What are hotels doing, now that cruise lines are opening up, and people are beginning to drive and take road trips again? We're following the hospitality industry's new guidelines and find that Hilton brand properties lead the parade when it comes to new high standards. From check-in without front desk contact, to a seal on the door to insure a spotless room for each guest, there are strict hygiene guidelines to make a road trip or pre-cruise stay safe. We'll give you the latest.
Remember to explore, learn and live, and see how it goes next Friday, at


  1. Excellent article with fun photos. How you hit home the importance of wearing a mask is wonderful. All the best from "the other coast."

  2. Bay Area BicyclistsJuly 17, 2020 at 6:39 PM

    Very nice piece. We have been masking since Day One up here in San Francisco. So proud of California, and frightened at the states that are back in the "red" high numbers...... we are "orange" in the graph I just found on line.... come on, folks.

  3. You've expressed our sentiments so well.

  4. A wonderful analysis.....I love the notion of solidarity. We are all human, and vulnerable. Let's take a cue from that "greatest generation" and rise to the occasion.