My Turn – We must put politics aside and answer this COVID-19 wakeup call

For nearly a year now the people of Susanville have struggled with how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today only a few of us wear masks and social distance.

The majority — if the number of people I see wearing masks around town is any indicator — do not. It seems their opposition hinges on their politics, and they say they fear once they succumb to mask wearing the next indignity will be the confiscation of their guns.

They say wearing a mask is an infringement on their First Amendment rights, mask wearing is a matter of personal choice, it’s an unconstitutional command from a blue dictator in Sacramento. Besides, the virus isn’t really dangerous for most of us, and anyway the whole thing is just fake news created by the socialists who want to destroy America, false propaganda created by those on the left who want to hurt President Donald Trump and stop him from winning a second term.

Why just today the pundits on one of our local radio stations discussed how Trump coming down with the virus might actually be an assassination attempt. Holy conspiracy theory, Batman!

Personally, I don’t see this pandemic as a political issue, and I’m not trying to make a political statement now. This virus simply does what all viruses do — it tries to survive. It survives by infecting more and more people. It spreads. It doesn’t care if its victims are conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, young or old, vulnerable or healthy. It’s a virus. It doesn’t care about the lives it takes. It doesn’t care about the damage it does. Sorry, absolutely nothing political here.

Yesterday, despite all the precautions, the daily testing, the testimony of experts and the mind-warping blabbering of so-called experts, the contentious press briefings and the seemingly endless yada, yada, yada, the disease spread through the White House chain of command all the way up to the President and the First Lady. Today I remember them in my prayers (and hopefully you will, too), and I wish them a speedy and complete recovery, especially now that the President has been taken to Walter Reed Hospital for treatment. And how about this development — the President and everyone transporting him to the hospital wore masks. What a surprising and unexpected turn around.

The people of Susanville need to answer this wakeup call. If COVID-19 can work its way through all those defenses and infect the President and First Lady, then it can certainly find its way to you, your family and your loved ones.

There are new developments here in Lassen County, too. According to a press release today from the Lassen County Public Health Department a Lassen County resident has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in critical condition in an out-of-state hospital. This is the first reported hospitalization of a member of the public from Lassen County. One state prison inmate reportedly was hospitalized for less than a day.

According to today’s release, the Public Health Department and the Incident Command for the Lassen County COVID-19 response reminds the public of the steps that can reduce or prevent the spread of any respiratory illness, including COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with liquid soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or if you do not have soap you can use alcohol-based sanitizer of at least 60 percent alcohol;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing, do not use your hands;
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick;
  • Regularly clean surfaces touched frequently by people
  • Practice social distancing recommendations by the CDC, such as reducing your interactions in large groups or crowds and avoid unnecessary public trips.

Amazingly and inexplicably from where I sit, the advice from our local COVID-19 experts in that press release does not include wearing a mask.

Richard Egan, a public information officer for the COVID-19 Incident Command Team, said there are different opinions about the efficacy of face masks, but they are part of the mandate and mask wearing should have been included in the team’s advice to the public. Despite that oversight or omission, he said he would not revise the press release to include the use of facemasks.

So here I am. Once again I hate to be the lone voice railing against the impending darkness. We must take this wake-up call seriously because the virus is here among us.

How big a bite will COVID-19 take out of our community? That depends on us. It’s completely up to us. I hope we make the right decision. Once again, I implore you to join me. I ask you to wear a facemask in public, social distance and practice good sanitation. Our first and best defense against the virus starts there. The lives we save will be our own.

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild symptoms to severe illness, and they may appear two to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sudden loss of taste or smell. Residents 65 years or older and individuals with underlying medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus.

If you feel like you or someone you care for is exhibiting symptoms, call the Lassen County Public Health Department at 251-8100.