Opinion: O.C.’s mask capitulation draws readers’ focus back to the coronavirus

People walk on Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton on June 11, the day Orange County said it was rescinding its mask requirement.
People walk along Harbor Boulevard in downtown Fullerton on June 11, the day Orange County announced it was rescinding its mask requirement.
(Los Angeles Times)

God help us, I remember thinking months ago, if something big enough happens that makes COVID-19 the No. 2 topic of discussion among our letter writers. We know how that turned out, but I should have known better after having similar thoughts during the Senate impeachment trial (which happened this year too!) and the Mueller investigation. It’s been that kind of time.

Of course, the coronavirus threat never abated, even though our letter writers’ attention has turned primarily to the protests over George Floyd’s killing, police brutality and systemic racism. In the last few days, however, there’s been a surge (a “second wave,” perhaps?) of letter submissions on the pandemic, and it has to do with the growing complacency of people amid the loosening of stay-at-home rules. What set off this resurgence of COVID-19 letters was the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ decision to rescind its mask requirement.

Fred Freedman of Rancho Palos Verdes asks not to be made a number:


As a senior citizen at high risk if infected with COVID-19, I believe it is my responsibility to society to wear a mask whenever I am near others. I am discouraged from going out into the public when so many people display their lack of concern for others’ well-being by not wearing a mask.

If this is the way people behave, we can have little hope that the pandemic in this country will be mitigated. I personally do not wish to be a statistic.

Barbara Busch of Santa Barbara backs for Orange County’s former lead health official:

Shame on Orange County officials for not standing up to the bullies in their midst and not supporting their departed public health chief Dr. Nichole Quick.

These people have no regard for others or for helping our struggling economy to reopen. Don’t they realize that people will be fearful to enter businesses where others are unmasked?

In all my many years, I have not seen such selfishness, and I am saddened, outraged and ashamed of my fellow Californians who willfully put us all at risk.

Nancy Wagner of Yorba Linda calls out one supervisor:


The bullying of Dr. Quick by Orange County Supervisor Donald Wagner and others is unconscionable.

At a board meeting, a deranged member of the public was allowed to broadcast Dr. Quick’s home address, which hastened her resignation. Unfortunately, ugly politics and selfishness are on full display in Orange County.

Alhambra resident Michael Ossorio compares mask rules to other safety requirements:

Parents are required to have an approved baby car seat for their newborn. Occupants in a car are required to wear a seat belt. Automobile owners are required to have insurance. It is illegal to drink and drive.

So why does anyone think the government lacks the power to require face masks?

As the saying goes, “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”

Public health messaging bears some of the blame, says Al Austin of West Hills:

Human nature being what it is, the biggest mistake the health experts made was emphasizing that wearing a mask only protects others. Many people might wear a mask solely for that reason, but many others are not so selfless, nor can they see that in the long run they would be protecting themselves.

Surely a mask offers some protection to the wearer. Even if the virus can enter through the eyes, the fabric must be a barrier to viral particles getting in through the nose and mouth. If it’s improbable, so what?

I’d be happy if the health experts emphasized, exaggerated or even flat out lied about the modicum of safety the mask offers the wearer. The goal should be more people wearing masks.