While the #BlackLivesMatter issue has not settled yet, amidst the coronavirus pandemic few political powers in the US are using the situation to their advantage by staging anti-masks protests across the country.
With a surge in Covid-19 cases and shortage of hospital beds, Washington's Governor Jay Inslee has made face masks mandatory in both indoor and outdoor settings if social distancing rules cannot be maintained. Those who violate the mandate will face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
According to Inslee, these face coverings are some kind of a statement, which means you care about people and you want to reduce the risk of infecting another person by wearing a mask. With this announcement by the Governor, Washington joins other states of Connecticut, Delaware, California, Illinois, and New York that require residents to wear masks in public.
An uptick in coronavirus cases has overwhelmed hospitals in the United States, Yakima country in Southeast of Seattle is considered to be the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in Washington. Yakima Health District said in a release that Virginia Mason Memorial "had no intensive care or non-intensive care beds available. Yakima County represented 22% (61 of 242) of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Washington State." Violation of the Yakima County proclamation for businesses is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. Businesses that do not comply with the mandate, risk losing their business license to operate.
Anti-mask protests in the US
The Mayor of Scottsdale denounced Guy Phillips, Scottsdale Councilman, for using the phrase 'I can't breathe' during an anti-mask protest. In response to the same, Phillips commented at his anti-mask protest rally at City Hall echoing George Floyd's last words before he breathed his last at the hands of Minneapolis police last month, which sparked protests across the country. He said, "I can't breathe. To wear or not to wear that is the question. You know I'd happily wear a mask out of respect for my fellow citizens, but when a government threatens me with a fine or a possible arrest, if I do not conform, then I protest. It's our right as Americans."
Enforcing the mask mandate in Scottsdale and Maricopa County will take an educational approach and the local police will take the final call. Anyone who wants to report mask order violations in these counties should use the non-emergency line.
Daniel McCarthy, US Senate candidate tweeted on video saying, "This is a violation against our first amendment rights, our fifth amendment rights, our ninth, fourteenth amendment rights. The time for talk is over. Are you guys going to wear a mask alone in the car? No. Are you going to wear a mask while you're riding your bike down the road? No. Are you going to allow the government to tell you, you have to wear a mask? No. The time is now. It's for action."
Author of Thrown Under The Bus: The Rise & Fall of An American Worker, T Zerilli-Edelglass called out to Donald Trump on Twitter saying, "When are you going to put an end to this mask mandate? We are SUFFERING. Masks are DANGEROUS. If you want to test, test test, fine, but you are fueling the blue state tyranny w/increased #'s. How are we to continue to live like this? Please take action!"
The '#Antimaskers' and the Covid-19 situation
Dr. Ali Khan, Epidemiologist, professor at College of Public Health UNMC, author of The Next Pandemic, coined a new term and hashtag on Twitter "#antimaskers" on the anti-mask outrage and protests by Americans saying, "Today I officially debut a new term and hashtag: #antimaskers. Known to hang with #antivaxxers, #climatechange deniers, and #flatearthers. The politicization of this disease must STOP. Believe it or not, test or not. Policy choices are leading to 200 new deaths every day."
In the past few weeks, there has been a public outcry, with political candidates supporting protesters on the anti-mask movement, to give the entire public safety requirement mandate of wearing masks at all times, a connotated tweaked approach - perhaps the US government is trying to take away the freedom of Americans in global biowarfare.
But lets for once care to understand that as responsible global citizens, this is not the time in history to debate, create ire, and stir controversial calling out of government on freedom deprivation of Americans. But a time to be inclusive and supportive of each other during global medical emergencies, as Americans did wear masks during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.