This question is so idiotic and controversial that it might be worth discussing. On June 23rd, ABC News reported that the battle over wearing a mask is intensifying in Orange County, even after the state issued new guidelines mandating face covering in high risk settings. In addition, the report indicates that groups for and against the use of face masks have formed in the county, and anti-mask protesters interrupted a planned press conference held by a pro-mask group in the previous weeks. Moreover, despite the spiking numbers of Covid-19 cases in the OC, Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said at a news conference that officials were “reviewing” the governor’s order. Then she told reporters she had “good news” that on Friday, nail salons, massage parlors, tattoo shops and other like services were opening again to the public.

Sadly, the Republican Orange County is divided like the rest of the nation and has also successfully politicized “the mask” as a symbol for freedom and pseudo-Republicanism. If you wear a mask, you’re against President Trump and MAGA and don’t belong in Orange County. Nonetheless, many of these alleged Republican political leaders have been vociferous supporters of the president’s mercurial and confusing policies and his dog whistles regarding masks, and at times appear to be posturing as they are auditioning for a white house position. Sadly, this chaos and division will continue throughout this year and will probably spill over into next year as our prospective election might become contested. Meanwhile, more people will become sick and die, while the minimizers and deniers of Covid-19 will continue their annihilatory and destructive path towards themselves and others.

The great scientist and Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling once brilliantly stated that “everything connects to everything else.” What we might perceive as separate from us may be nothing more than an illusion of our own ego. In collective societies wearing a mask during epidemics or pandemics is a duty and an honor to protect others as people from these regions tend to have a sense of collective unity and when one is injured the rest of the people are impacted. Respecting the welfare of others should not be a mortal sin and a path to ridicule and harassment. Unfortunately, in western societies such as in the United States, extreme individualism prevails, hence paving the way for pathological narcissism and entitlement. Therefore, the concept of wearing a mask in our culture to protect others from infection is a foreign concept that aggravates us and inconveniences us. The result is rebellion, or passive-aggressive acting out where people will refuse to wear a mask intentionally or stupidly, thus infecting others and perpetuating and prolonging the ordeal of the pandemic.

Then, what should we do as this alleged enemy is invisible? What is the truth about masks, and why are we told that these PPEs are only effective to protect others? If they are, then why do hospital workers wear them to protect themselves and others from infection? According to PLOS ONE scientific journal, any type of general mask is likely to decrease viral exposure and infection risk on a population level, despite imperfect fit and imperfect adherence. That might be commonsensical as your viral load whether inhaled or exhaled will be reduced by wearing a mask.

What is interesting about this novel bug is that many people can become infected with the Covid-19 virus but don’t develop any symptoms making them silent carriers who continue to shed the virus and spread infections everywhere. Some cases of asymptomatic carriers have been confirmed by finding and testing people who were in close contact with COVID-19 patients. For those who tested positive without symptoms, follow-up exams confirmed that about 25% continued to show no signs, World Health Organization officials said on April 1, citing data from China. The examples of the silent spreaders are numerous in every nation, per example, the tiny island nation of Iceland has a population of 364,134 people which is as big as the population Tulsa Oklahoma, and half of its population was infected by the Covid-19 virus, however, the infected Icelanders showed no symptoms. That is a frightening revelation about asymptomatic infected people who are walking around infecting others.

It appears that scientists are learning new facts on a daily-basis about Covid-19, and the information continues to evolve on a minute-by-minute basis as more data and evidence becomes available.

Therefore, we must wonder how many people in the world have been infected by Covid-19. Meanwhile, pundits and experts as well as conspiracy theorists have contributed to the confusion about this pandemic. The experts on the right tend to minimize the severity of the Covid-19 as they initially called it a hoax, while the pundits on the left seem to be more conscientious and dramatic in their coverage of the virus. Meanwhile, the public is stuck in the middle confused and scared not knowing what the truth is.

In addition, we have all noticed that every day a new corona virus symptom is discovered, while the infection rate continues to increase as the country begins to open its economy of consumption. Meanwhile, the herds are going wild during the grand openings, grazing on every item they can buy after Covid-19 has temporarily dampened their addiction to consumption by keeping them home for the past 3 to 4 months. So, once again we should all ask these legitimate questions, who do we believe regarding the pandemic? Do we listen to the left-wing or the right-wing pundits, or should we strictly listen to the chronically dishonest politicians? Do we not care any longer, or do we have data exhaustion?

Interestingly, in this age of social media and twenty-four hours news service the public is saturated with information or misinformation around the clock causing them massive bloating and information fatigue resulting in significant indifference about important events domestically and in the world. Consequently, instead of claiming burnout, our duty as citizens in Orange County or any other county, city, or state to search for the truth and practice critical thinking instead of being driven likes sheep into the slaughterhouse.

Nevertheless, let’s be very clear that wearing a mask is not a political statement, but a public health statement and mixing them up will have dire consequences.

Rick Scaf is a freelance investigative journalist. No affiliation to any special interest group or political party.

Opinions expressed in community opinion pieces belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

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