Purely Political, James Buckley
Two Sundays ago, I advised readers that if they had had their two-shot vaccine it was time to stop wearing their masks. Some mask wearers disagreed. For example:
“Is James Buckley 6 years old?
“Because his complaint about wearing a mask is the complaint of a child who has few problems in life and therefore exaggerates what problems he has like having to brush his teeth, eat his vegetables, or do his homework.
“When I think about the sacrifices and risks Americans had to face during WWII, I wonder what happened to American resilience, fortitude and commitment to something greater than ourselves when Americans like James Buckley find wearing a mask so difficult. If this is a big enough problem for Mr. Buckley to write an article about, he has no problems.
“Instead, he has merely exposed himself to be an impetuous child in the body of an adult. I feel sorry for him. Instead, he should find a problem to sink his teeth into that will actually challenge his thinking rather than merely affirm his own point of view.
“The courage to think critically is what Mr. Buckley should encourage, not the bravado of a selfish mind.”
First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to respond to the column. I am somewhat older than 6 and really do eat my vegetables, though broccoli often stays uneaten on my plate.
I do wonder why, however, if someone who has taken all the advised precautions doled out over the past year and has now been inoculated and fully protected against COVID-19, why must that person still wear a mask?
And, when will it be “safe” to go unmaskulated (my word)?
I don’t know what “the courage to think critically” means, but I’m through with taking the advice of “experts” such as Dr. Anthony Fauci (or President Joe Biden) and have made the personal decision to go maskless. If this is “the bravado of a selfish mind,” then count me selfish.
Another reader expressed support for my column.
“So glad to see you are writing for SB News-Press.
“Enjoyed your Op-ed.
“I too have received both shots and appreciate your point of view.”
No need for comment here. Thank you!
WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE?
Here’s another letter.
“Thank you for welcoming comments from readers to your March 21 News-Press editorial, ‘Masking of America.’ Here are my comments:
“You claim most hospitals were not overwhelmed. In fact, many hospitals were overwhelmed: New York had to put patients in their convention center. During the January surge, many more hospitals were overwhelmed. Reno hospital had to put patients in the underground garage, and even here in Santa Barbara, ICU beds were totally full.
“You claim we flattened the curve, but don’t mention the surge in January after we ignored public health measures and had many more cases and deaths than the original peak before we ‘flattened the curve.’ And that was due to not wearing masks, among other things.
“You claim the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan. What is your evidence for that claim? WHO hasn’t found any.
“If you have evidence, the world would love to see it.
“You praise Trump for ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ but don’t blame him for the denial of seriousness of the pandemic and his lack of leadership in instituting common sense public health measures (e.g. masks), which would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
“Trump touted the worthless hydroxychloroquine, as the ‘game changer.’ Is that the cure you credit Trump for? It would have made more sense for him to promote fluvoxamine, for which there is some data to its effectiveness. (JAMA 2020;324(22) 292-300).
“You state, ‘The number (of deaths) … is in line with similar death tolls in other countries around the world.’ That is inaccurate. The number of deaths in the U.S. is higher than any other country and not in line with them. U.S. total deaths 558,000. Next highest, Brazil with 301,000. Plus the hundreds of healthcare workers who died in the pandemic.
“Biden never said we must wear masks ‘for the foreseeable future’ as you claim.
“You urge people, especially those who have been vaccinated, to stop wearing masks, and state, ‘If you are afraid of being struck by COVID 19, wear a mask.’
“That shows a misunderstanding of the reason for masks. It has been clearly shown that wearing a mask protects others more than the wearer and aids in controlling the spread of the virus. The more the virus spreads, the greater the chance of it mutating and producing more infectious, virulent and (hopefully not) vaccine resistant strains. “Since the virus survives only in human hosts, if we can stop the virus from spreading, it will disappear. Countries which have followed and obeyed sensible public health guidelines have proven this. Examples: New Zealand, South Korea.
“Please don’t ‘take the damned mask off.’ Wear it. Because not doing so will just prolong and exacerbate the pandemic and its adverse social and economic consequences.”
George F. Bajor, M.D.
I guess what I’d want after reading your letter is a second opinion, but barring that, let me take each of your issues separately.
1) As far as hospitals being “overwhelmed,” that was a real issue at the beginning of this event, but in many cases, because of the public’s cooperation in hunkering down, it was mostly avoided. But some hospitals certainly felt the strain.
2) I didn’t “claim” the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. My exact words were, it was “most likely born in and released from a lab in Wuhan, China.” I do believe that remains the “most likely” source of this deadly virus.
3) Former President Donald Trump did indeed save “hundreds of thousands of lives” by instituting Operation Warp Speed. The same people who praised, for example, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts in Germany, are those who criticized Mr. Trump’s somewhat clumsy dual effort to deal with the pandemic while keeping our economy alive. Germany (and France, and most of Europe) are now dealing with the negative results of those efforts.
4) I don’t credit Mr. Trump with any game-changing “cure.” Hydroxychloroquine is hardly “worthless,” though it is also not a “cure,” but neither I nor Mr. Trump ever made that claim. He just suggested it was worth a try, and when he came down with COVID-19, it was one of the medications he tried.
5) The number of deaths in the U.S. per capita is indeed in line with the rest of the Western world. This is an equal opportunity virus and probably until “herd immunity” is reached, will continue to devastate vulnerable populations, unless and until some of the medications being experimented with today prove to be more effective.
6) As far as I can tell, Mr. Biden does believe we’ll be wearing masks “for the foreseeable future.” I’m willing to be corrected about that, but so far, the evidence that I’m wrong is underwhelming.
7) As far as South Korea and New Zealand are concerned, well, from what I understand, the only way New Zealand is able to maintain its COVID-free status is by sealing the country off from other countries, an impossibility in the U.S. I don’t know enough about South Korea to comment.
I understand you are a doctor and know much more about this than I, but my understanding is that the virus isn’t simply going to “disappear” if we stop the spread. It’ll just sit around and wait for another opportunity, whereupon it will wreak its havoc unless we have built up our immunity via inoculation, by living through an infection or having developed a real “cure.”
8) I no longer wear a mask. I bring it with me, and if I am asked to put it on and I need something I won’t be able to get without it, I’ll (reluctantly) put it on. I am pleased to report that many other people — especially those who’ve gotten vaccinated and are past the period of contagion — are doing the same, and I encourage them to do so.
9) I know this sounds selfish, but Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” statement is a sentiment we could all pay a little more attention to, otherwise these COVID-19 masks may become so tight and heavy we’ll never be able to remove them.
Here’s another letter.
“Being Montecitans, my husband and I were delighted to see you in Sunday’s paper, and know you’re back in circulation (literally). As we remember you from the Montecito Journal, your views are pithy, sensible and so well expressed. We’ve missed them.
“We often have those ‘Couldn’t have said it better myself’ moments.
“Funny, but I have the same viewpoint on masking too. Being a few days from my second vaccination, I really began thinking, ‘Why keep wearing this stupid mask?’
“So I think we’ll take your advice on both counts. Go naked on the streets and beaches. Try going into a shop or store unmasked, be asked to leave, and then politely comply. Will share this idea with our bolder friends!”
“Looking forward to Sunday reading,
“Best to you.”
Thank you, Ms. Lorge. Be sure to wear sunscreen!