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My Side: Mask or no mask? Which way are you going?

by Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

The CUSD pandemic story in last week’s edition got me thinking about when and how much I’m going to wear a mask. New cases in Los Angeles County continue to drop, with only 830 on March 8. That’s a small enough number to make me feel really good about the direction we are going.

Even schools are dropping their mask requirements, and in my mind they’re among the last places where masks should be coming off. And the CDC is saying they see no new harmful variants on the horizon, even though they cautioned about letting our guard down.

The bottom line for me is that I’m just sick and tired of wearing a mask after two years of a pandemic upending everyone’s lives. As someone who had to work through this mess, I have a newfound respect for the people who have had no choice but to put themselves in harm’s way to help others. Especially those serving others in hospitals, schools, police departments, grocery stores and other essential venues.

As someone who gladly got vaccinations and a booster shot, I’m just at a point where I feel safe enough to go out and enjoy not wearing a mask. More importantly, I don’t feel like I’m impacting fellow citizens who are coping with these same issues.

Of course, there are still plenty of people who didn’t get the vaccine who have no problem taking their masks off, too. Other than for specific medical reasons, not getting a COVID vaccination just doesn’t make sense. The numerous variants that literally extended the public’s suffering (and mask wearing), were spread by those without vaccinations. Yet this made little impact in changing people’s minds.

I’ve asked this question many times and still don’t have any real answers. Why would anyone risk their own life and those of others just because the government is asking for the public’s help during a health crisis? Are we a society without rules? Ask an ER doctor or nurse what the hardest part is about treating seriously ill patients with COVID. Most will say it’s treating the unvaccinated who simply don’t or can’t believe they are dying from the virus.

Unfortunately, this era of misinformation only makes it easier to do stupid things. Why is it so hard to believe real medical professionals when they say COVID is so serious? And do some people really not care about transmitting the virus to others? These are questions I’ve wrestled with since the pandemic started and they’re now coming back front and center as the virus numbers drop.

I admit to not having many answers. The hard part was the direction the pandemic took seemed to change on a regular basis. In some cases, there were no definitive answers. Rules and restrictions changed. The public was frustrated, while politics and misinformation kicked in. Our president in 2020 wanted little to do with solving anything and basically made the situation worse. He avoided wearing a mask, then of course, got the virus.

Remember at first, we couldn’t find any sanitizer in the stores. So let’s wash our hands! I couldn’t even find window cleaner for my car windows. COVID was new and the medical community knew very little about it. But the public wanted answers, and if there weren’t any, there were too many people willing to make them up. I had readers tell me that COVID was just like the flu and that we should treat it as such. That meant no treatment. Now the U.S. is about to hit one million deaths from the virus.

And we have been on a rollercoaster ride ever since … until now. When you look back, it really is amazing what the public went through. Which is why I don’t want to deal with a pandemic ever again. I’m just burned out. You know, maybe I will leave that mask on a little longer.

Vivian Webb girls’ varsity soccer snagged a twofer, defeating Arrowhead Christian Academy, 3-2, to claim the Division 5 CIF Southern California Regional tournament title on Saturday at Faculty Field in Claremont.

This was the second time in just a week that the Gauls edged past the Eagles to claim a CIF title. Junior forward Abbey Cook was again the star of the show, this time nabbing herself a brace, 2 goals, and an assist in the championship game.

“I couldn’t have scored without it going through 10 other girls on the field. I think everything just worked out the way it was supposed to,” Cook said after the game. “In the game there were several other chances, at least in my mind, that I should have finished but I’m grateful those misses didn’t end up biting me.”

In just two regional tournament games, the number one seeded Gauls scored 12 goals, nine of which came during their semifinal game against number four seeded Mount Miguel High School.

To say this was a successful season for the Gauls would be an understatement. They won a treble, grabbing the San Joaquin League title, the Division 6 CIF-Southern Section title, and now the Division 5 regional title. In addition, they completed a perfect season, going 20-0 overall, and 8-0 in league.

“Not many teams can say they went undefeated all season. For me personally, I’m just happy for them, they’ve been working hard all season,” said Head Coach Malick Mbengue, who has been with the team for five seasons. “They knew they were a good team, but still had to prove it on the field, and they did.”

Since it was the final game of the season, Coach Mbengue said the team will focus on rebuilding for the future. Though they will lose a few seniors, including goalscoring threats like forward Taren Duffy, Mbengue said the core of the team will still be there next season since many of the current players are sophomore and juniors.

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