Who Is That Masked Man?
Updated: Apr 28, 2020
I don't think this is what the Dread Pirate Roberts had in mind. Harris County has now joined Dallas County to require masks to worn by pretty much everyone all the time for the next 30 days. Here are the basics from the Houston Chronicle:
The new rules, which require residents 10 and older to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home, will take effect Monday and last 30 days. Acceptable garments include a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief. Medical masks or N-95 respirators are not recommended as they are most needed by first responders and health workers.
Under the order, the county’s 4.7 million residents must cover their faces at all times except when exercising, eating or drinking; the exemptions also include when individuals are alone, at home with roommates or family, or when wearing a mask poses a greater risk to security, mental or physical health.
The mask requirement will also apply to all essential businesses still operating requiring all employees to wear masks while working and then presumably businesses that are allowed to open within the next 30 days. There are also penalties for non-compliance. Once the actual order is released, we will update this post with a bit more detail.
In the spirit of the mainstream media's tendency to mix editorials with news, please allow us to engage in some editorial comments in response to this new mask order. What the heck is going on?
At the same press conference, Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner announced that out of the 34 deaths due to COVID-19 in the City of Houston, all 34 victims had pre-existing conditions that contributed to their deaths. This is a tragic loss of life regardless of those pre-existing conditions, but why are we pretending that this changes nothing? More than 30 days ago, we took these extreme, but to most people's minds necessary, steps to "flatten the curve." The point of flattening the curve was to prevent our hospital systems from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Applying plain old common sense, isn't it reasonable to conclude that we succeeded? Also, I think they have the wrong 30 day period in mind. It seems like the mask mandate, to the extent it is effective, would have been way more effective over the last thirty days.
We can stipulate that no one wants anyone's grandmother to suffer an early death from COVID-19, but isn't now the time put away the sledgehammers of massive government-ordered dictates and start using finer tools designed to maintain the low rates of infection we have in Harris County and the City of Houston compared to other metropolitan areas. Requiring the wearing of masks by everyone all the time for a month in the face of declining rates of infection and deaths makes a mockery of wearing masks It makes freedom-loving people more likely to say, "to hell with you" rather than saying "OK, I can make that concession" or "Hey, that sounds reasonable." Thus, the mask order will make villains out of the unmasked (ironic, no?).
UPDATE: We are delighted to see that the Governor's Reopen Texas report takes the mandatory part of the mask order away. This is great news.