Our country has a mask problem

by Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

There’s been an enormous amount of discussion throughout the country about whether states should enforce strict measures for wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. Mask wearing enforcement can be so intense that some health officials quit their jobs after receiving threats from the public.

Americans clearly feel they have a right to say “no mask for me,” as we see people of all ages and political beliefs go maskless in social situations. Crowded beaches, pool parties, even political rallies continue to be held, totally ignoring any social distancing precautions. It also doesn’t help that the Trump administration ignores science by considering masks optional or political, rarely wearing them in public (although Vice President Pence has started to wear a mask).

Even as his own staff gets infected, President Trump said at a Tulsa rally that testing is a “double-edged sword,” asking health officials to do less testing to keep the numbers down.

Of course testing is critical for early identification, leading to quick treatment, including isolation to keep others from getting infected. Unfortunately, the president continues to lead by example by not wearing a mask. And many of his supporters are happy to follow.

Now the virus is back after we initially took positive, yet painful steps early on. I’m fully aware that we really needed to open our economy. I support this 100 percent. But is this one step forward and two steps back if we are forced to stay at home again? Don’t kid yourself, this could happen.

And states like Texas and Florida, whose leadership ignored early virus warnings, are swimming upstream trying to manage uncontrolled growth. It’s so bad now, US citizens are banned from visiting other countries.

Even other states like New York and New Jersey want people visiting from states like California to quarantine before going out in public. Beaches are closing again, restaurants are going back to takeout or outside eating only. Pro sports like basketball, football and baseball now realize 2020 may end their seasons, before they even start.

As a nation we are going backwards in managing this pandemic. And there’s no end in sight. Just look at the numbers. The only good news is that deaths remain low considering the number of new cases.

I’m not a medical expert and can really only hope Americans understand the importance of working together to get through this crisis. Many see wearing a mask as a political statement, acting like it’s their right to infect others.

There’s a viral video of a young woman being escorted out of a market for refusing to wear a mask. She left screaming that “you liberals” have no right to kick her out. Whatever happened to helping our fellow citizens stay healthy?

On July 1 in LA County, there were 2,002 new cases and 35 deaths. That’s in one day. Claremont still has relatively low numbers with 108 cases and two deaths. Even with these numbers, our health system can manage this case load. But that can change quickly as we are seeing in Riverside County, where intensive e care beds are at 99 percent capacity because of a June spike in cases. And just like that, Riverside is now considered a hot spot.

So what’s the solution? A good start is by wearing a mask in public. It’s really that simple.

COURIER Challenge winners announced

Last week we introduced the COURIER Challenge, a photo contest where you tell us the Claremont locations our photos were taken. After 17 entries, the winners who guessed all five correctly—and the first two to do so—were Claremonters Mark Merritt and Rick Lacy. The photos are linked to this page in a photo gallery. Mark and Rick will each receive our collector edition COURIER t-shirt. Thanks to everyone who entered…we will try this again soon.


Oh yes, the locations were top of Potato Mountain, a quarry next to Chaparral Elementary School, Mills Avenue and 210 freeway, Cahuilla Park and Carnegie Hall on College Avenue.


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