Bateman masked

Chris Bateman all masked up.

First off, I do not like wearing masks. 

They are mildly uncomfortable, particularly on hot days. And occasionally they slip a bit and must be readjusted. 

That said, I wear masks for a very small portion of my life – way less than 1 percent. I minimize trips to grocery stores, shops, neighborhoods and offices where I might run into strangers. I thus minimize mask wearing. 

Most of the time I’m here at home, working, writing, cooking or hiking with my dog – all mask-free. 

But yes, by masking up in public, I am doing my part to stem the spread of Covid. The personal sacrifice involved is minimal at best. 

That’s why I find it difficult to understand the almost phobic response to masks from some quarters. A look at The Union Democrat’s letters pages Wednesday yielded examples. 

One contributor labeled wearing masks as “moral narcissism,” a left-wing “assault on basic freedoms” and a political tool for future subjugation.

“Since when,” asked another writer, “does putting cloth or paper over one’s mouth determine a person’s self-worth? Too many have drunk the Kool-Aid of control and confusion.”  

Excuse me? 

I am 74 years old, and have a variety of ailments including prostate cancer, atrial fibrillation and a blood disease called hemochromatosis. I am firmly in that compromised, virus-vulnerable population. 

So I wear a mask in public for two simple reasons: I don’t want to get Covid and I don’t want to give it. And when I see others wearing them, what I think is “thank you.” 

Politics does not enter my decision. 

In fact I’m largely apolitical. Over the years I’ve voted for Democrats, Republicans and even a Libertarian. I never veer far to the left or right, and  have friends on both sides.  I try to stay informed and to base my thinking on common sense. 

I know a few doctors, and I’ve asked all of them about masks. Their unanimous answer? “Wear them.” 

Is there any reason to doubt their wisdom? I doubt it, but when it comes to life or death, I’ll err on the side of caution. 

Back in March, when I began writing this Geezer’s Diary, I could not have predicted that wearing protective masks would become a highly charged, divisive political issue. 

That would be the unimaginable stuff of bad science fiction.  But today, at least to some extent, it has become part of our reality.

When I venture out, I see varying levels of mask compliance. Seems high in grocery stores, not so much in hardware stores. But I’m not drawing conclusions or making assumptions. 

Nor am I an interventionist. I’m not going to scold or lecture non-wearers. I’m just going to keep my distance. So if any of you see me backpedaling, don’t take it personally. I’m doing it for your own good and mine.

And enforcement? 

Sure, Wal-Mart can require customers to mask up before coming in. But cops or deputies giving tickets to the maskless? 

That’s not going to work here in the Mother Lode. 

In fact some people would violate California’s mask rules, then frame the resulting citation just to show it off.  Well worth the fine, they might say.  

Others might pick a bone with the cops, which would lead to no good. 

So here in the foothills and mountains, compliance and effectiveness is based on personal choice.  And the more people who make the choice to wear, the better off we will be. 


Which has me circling back to Tuolumne County’s Covid testing rates: 

It seems we were stuck at two positive cases for weeks.  In an earlier diary entry I joked that if I were ever in a bizarre movie in which I had to get infected to survive, I would have no idea where to find someone to cough at me. 

But now we have more than 70 cases and counting. No, this is nothing in the statewide picture, but it’s 35 times our case count at the beginning of June. And now 24 Tuolumne County Corona victims are recovering at home and two more are at the hospital. 

It would be easier now, unfortunately, to find someone to cough on me. So things here and in many other places are getting worse, not better. 

If there is a good time to mask up, this means, it is now. 

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