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Letters to the Editor: Hey, fearless mask refusers, covering up is meant to protect others, not yourself

Mask giveaway in Hong Kong
People line up to receive free face masks from a convenience store chain in Hong Kong on Jan. 7.
(Jerome Favre / EPA-EFE/REX)

To the editor: I just had to comment on the juxtaposition of two articles in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times — Steve Lopez’s column on the immediate proliferation of face masks in Hong Kong after the initial coronavirus outbreak, and a news report on people driving hundreds of miles for a haircut.

In the haircut article, one barber shows zero concern for his clients or anyone else when he states, “It’s their decision, it’s their life. I myself am not afraid of the virus, so I’m not wearing a mask.” With this self-centeredness, we may never see an end to the COVID-19 crisis.

In Lopez’s column, a UCLA epidemiologist reminds us that the point of wearing a mask is not to keep the wearer safe, but to protect others. As the American living in Hong Kong said, “If we could change the mentality to benevolence toward others rather than fear of catching something from someone else or protecting our rights, perhaps it would open people’s hearts toward a shared goal of a better next step in the world.”

I’m with her, so I’m wearing my mask to protect others when they are unable to stay socially distant from me.

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Maria Brock, La Verne

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To the editor: Lopez does not cite a single peer-reviewed study that supports any transmission — let alone statistically meaningful transmission — of COVID-19 arising outdoors where there’s social distancing. This includes exercising outdoors.

It’s easy for Lopez to preach to others when he likely has little concern about his own economic well-being. It’s also easy for the L.A. Times to accompany his hectoring column with a photo of an enormously crowded cosmetics shop line where masks are obviously necessary because there’s no social distancing.

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Lopez does cite the opinion of some young woman in Hong Kong. This is what passes for science to him.

Kip Dellinger, Santa Monica

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To the editor: So this is what we are up against — a man who would drive 600 miles for a haircut and says “there is nothing to be afraid of.”

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This story on your front page is accompanied by four others telling us that even the White House is not safe, that a woman who couldn’t afford to lose her minimum wage job is now infected along with her husband and two children, that the state’s freed inmates have nowhere to go, and that in Mexico they can’t even keep track of the number of COVID-19 deaths.

For the man who traveled far for a haircut, I guess it will take him lying on his deathbed to convince him there is something to fear. How do we fight this kind of ignorance when we’re fighting a pandemic?

Peggy Jo Abraham, Santa Monica


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