Argument from Bouchat makes no sense
I know that Commissioner Eric Bouchat is not alone in feeling it is somehow unreasonable to be asked to wear a mask in public. However, I found his recent comparison to being overweight or a smoker to be so irrelevant and even dangerous that I am writing this against my first inclination not to repeat what has been said better by others but apparently not made clear to the commissioner.
In short, masks don’t keep you from getting the virus. They only reduce the chances of spread if someone is infectious and not aware of it. Reduce, not eliminate, but it’s the right thing to do. “Healthy” does not mean free of the virus — read about how it was “healthy” workers in nursing homes who unknowingly brought about such tragedy.
Being around a smoker is dangerous if you are breathing secondhand smoke, so smoking areas have been restricted to reduce this. Being around someone who is obese, however, has no chance of “infecting” anyone with obesity. Being around someone who may not know they have a highly contagious virus transmitted by exhalations from their lungs, is very dangerous and this risk can be at least minimized very simply. Comparing a virus to overeating is like comparing gravity to speeding. It makes no sense at all.
His advice to those at risk of serious illness if infected is insulting. No one with a respiratory disease is protecting society by staying home, as he suggests. These “unhealthy” people are not spreading chronic illness or bad choices. Rather, by discouraging all citizens from taking a small step like wearing a mask indoors and in public, older people and those with a range of conditions that put them at risk of dying are put under house arrest. How is that reasonable or courageous?
I fear that his “courageously healthy people” who “choose not to wear masks” are the ones likely to cause a collapse as they ignore evidence, overwhelm hospitals and further reduce our national strength. I would rather not show that kind of courage. Let’s face facts, and not muddle the message. Statistics are funny things. Bouchat states that most of us in Carroll County are more likely die of something other than COVID-19. Yes, there are many ways people die. But is the prevention of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of deaths and many more lingering health problems justified by such an argument? Is it therefore a reason to refuse to wear a mask and limit contact? If I thought it prevented one death, it would be enough for me. I wear my mask for others. Please do the same for me.
Why Bouchat is wrong, point by point
Let’s review a few of the assumptions that Commissioner Eric Bouchat makes in his recent opinion piece about wearing, or not wearing, a mask:
1) Mask wearing is just my personal choice.
Either he has not been paying attention, or he simply ignores the fact that whether or not you wear a mask is not about you. A mask prevents you from spreading coronavirus to other people. That is why healthy people should wear them. If you are infected, even if you’re not exhibiting symptoms, you are still shedding virus with every breath. That poses a danger to the community. And a mask can reduce that danger.
2) If you are at risk, it is your fault.
Not only is this objectively wrong (unless 135,000 Americans deserved to die because of their lifestyle choices), it is heartless and cruel. He may think people who suffer from addictions or indulge in vices have sacrificed the right to expect health and well-being, but the virus does not have a moral compass as perfect as Commissioner Bouchat’s. It does not selectively seek out the drunks, the druggies and the obese. It will infect a child, a marathoner, a vegan ... even a virtuous politician. And that person is then a spreader of the disease, even if he or she does not show symptoms or become very ill.
So is an elderly person deserving of death if a healthy grandchild chooses not to wear a mask and infects her? Should a diabetic child die because his father is more mindful of convenience and “freedom of choice” than of the child’s safety? Must a cancer patient accept her fate if she goes to the store and gets sprayed by a vigorous, infected 23-year-old?
And if the commissioner bothered to look at the news, he would also see the stories of the healthy young people who blithely ignored guidelines and either died or became debilitated as a result. COVID-19 does not respect or care about your diet, your exercise regimen or your moral vigor. It finds a host, moves in, and starts spreading. And then either you don’t die, or you do.
3) And anyway, it isn’t all that dangerous.
What part of 135,000 isn’t sinking in, Commissioner Bouchat? Perhaps in a few days, when that gets to 200,000 ...
What particularly irritates me about the commissioner’s self-righteous nonsense is the underlying conviction that how people behave isn’t anyone else’s business — and that’s it’s wrong to insist that people behave as if they were part of a community. That attitude is now killing Americans at a breathtaking rate. It’s bewildering that Commissioner Bouchat doesn’t see that as a problem.
None of column’s main points stand to reason
I am writing to respond to the opinion piece by Commissioner Eric Bouchat in Tuesday’s edition. The commissioner’s first point seems to be that current data show that the risk of any seemingly healthy person in the county dying from COVID-19 is so low as to not merit the inconvenience of community mask-wearing. Governors in Florida, Arizona, and Texas thought the same thing a few weeks ago, and have had to revise their opinions as cases have exploded in their states. Experts confirm that community mask-wearing is one of the easiest, most effective tools in fighting the virus’ spread.
His second point seems to be that people vulnerable to the virus have themselves to blame, and if they’d only buck up and take a few steps to improve their health they wouldn’t have to worry about getting sick. This is simply ludicrous. type 1 diabetes, for example, is not the result of lifestyle choices. Similarly, I can’t help the fact that I’m over 60.
And Commissioner Bouchat’s related third point is just not true. Seemingly healthy people can and do spread COVID-19. Until everyone can be tested with quick results, we won’t know who is infected and spreading the virus. Wearing a mask when social distancing isn’t possible, even if you think you’re healthy, is a show of compassion for your community, not a political statement or sign of moral superiority. It’s a simple act, and it’s effective.
Prioritize safety, especially of kids
I hope that county officials put the safety of the students, teachers and other staff as the highest, actually the only priority, when deciding whether to reopen schools. Children seem less likely to become infected by the COVID-19 virus, but they aren’t immune. And the adults in the schools certainly aren’t immune. President Trump isn’t concerned about your children’s welfare, or the teachers. He seems hell bent to reopen schools to aid his re-election efforts. Just like he and his minions were hell bent to reopen the economy. How’s that working out?
Then we have Commissioner Eric Bouchat, who has seemingly decided to represent selfish ignorance by advocating not wearing a mask in public. According to Bouchat, only fat, old people with medical problems spread the virus. He’s an ignorant fool. I strongly urge Bouchat to do the right thing and resign from office now. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Mr. Trump will do the same.
That’s not how COVID-19 spreads in nursing homes
Questions for Commissioner Eric Bouchat: Are you aware that the general medical consensus is that the virus was brought into the nursing homes by otherwise “healthy” staff and prior to the virus, mask wearing was uncommon in nursing homes? If healthy people do not get or pass the virus, please explain, how 25% of the sailors on the USS Roosevelt became positive for the virus. Yes, I know only one died.