Opinion: The Rams go to the Super Bowl, and California gets another COVID scandal

Rams fans, including several without masks, cheer at SoFi Stadium
Fans cheer during the NFC Championship game between the Rams and 49ers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Jan. 30.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Next Sunday the Rams will play in the Super Bowl at their own stadium — only the second time in NFL history that one team has home field advantage — and in Los Angeles plenty of us are more scandalized than elated leading up to the big game. It’s not as if there isn’t a good reason why; after all, a San Francisco Bay Area man is in a medically induced coma from an apparent altercation outside SoFi Stadium in Inglewood after the Rams defeated the 49ers last Sunday to go to the Super Bowl, a tragedy that echoes the disgraceful near-fatal beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot in 2011.

More concerning to our letter writers were the photos of elected officials at the game who were not wearing masks. Two of those politicians, Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, are already veterans of previous un-masking scandals; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is new to this, but he doesn’t seem to have helped himself by explaining that he held his breath while posing for the photo unmasked. All three are the highest-profile public officials in the nation associated with the stay-home and masking rules that have drawn derision from the right — and there they were with smiling bare faces.

As the saying goes, this is why we can’t have nice things.


To the editor: Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti have the intellect to weigh the risk-benefit ratio to decide when they should mask or not mask. However, we the hoi polloi obviously lack the ability to take into consideration the various factors to make the same decision.


This is as good as any reason to end the mandate and expect people to wear a mask if they’re in a high-risk group, not vaccinated, near people who are considered vulnerable and so forth. Californians have now lived in this pandemic for nearly two years, and most of us know the best techniques to protect ourselves from COVID-19. It’s time now to let us put those techniques into practice.

In short, let those who need to or feel more comfortable doing so wear a mask, and allow those of us who’ve taken all the necessary precautions, including being vaccinated, choose when not to wear a mask, as Newsom and Garcetti did.

Geneviève Clavreul, Pasadena


To the editor: Why on earth should we let the personal opinions of an L.A. County supervisor or the mayor of San Francisco, neither of whom have any medical or public health expertise, dictate L.A. County’s masking policy?

The scientific evidence is clear: Masking helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 (and the flu and the common cold). Lax compliance with, and enforcement of, the masking policy in L.A. is one of the factors keeping our COVID-19 rates so much higher than those of San Francisco; in fact, one epidemiologist quoted in a recent Times article said Bay Area residents are more likely to mask than Southern California residents.

The embarrassment of politicians being caught on camera unmasked and L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s weariness with masking are not the scientific evidence on which sound public health policy is based. Barger actually went as far as to say she thinks the decision to mask should be left to individuals based on informed choice. Informed by what?


The decision to unmask at a football game (or any crowded or indoor event) is not informed by anything except ignorance and self-centeredness. And what about the choices of everyone else in their vicinity not to get sick while trying to watch the game they paid to attend?

Sydne Jennifer Newberry, San Pedro


To the editor: Garcetti claims to have been holding his breath, but we are not holding ours.

As Angelenos, we are not holding our breath for all the changes that never came to pass under his leadership. He has always been stronger on strategy than on actual execution.

In the past, he’s usually leveled with us when he made mistakes.

I regret that as he closes the final chapter as our mayor, this episode of him defending a poor choice with this vapid rationalization will remain etched in my memory.

His leadership style is probably better suited to the role of diplomat than a mayor, but even diplomats need to be authentic and truthful.

We’re ready to move on with our next mayor. It’s time.

Steven Lutzer, Los Angeles



To the editor: What is it about politicians who try to explain away their politically damaging behavior by invoking the basic act of breathing?

Garcetti said he didn’t exhale when posing for a photo. Bill Clinton said he didn’t inhale when smoking marijuana.

Jill Chapin, Santa Monica


To the editor: So, Garcetti held his breath while taking maskless photos at SoFi Stadium.

Does he not know that the built-up air in his lungs would have been forced out at an even greater pressure when he took his first breath? Best not to stand in front of him.

Toby Horn, Los Angeles


To the editor: For all those who are quick to criticize politicians and celebrities for not wearing masks at SoFi Stadium, please keep in mind that most if not all of them were probably vaccinated and boosted, thereby diminishing their chances of infection or transmission to others.


Mike Moralez, Whittier