As health advisors and elected officials warn of a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases, we should also beware of another troubling trend — misguided and misdirected anger toward business owners and their employees attempting to comply with mask orders.

When the city of Galveston this week made businesses responsible for policing the mask order in their shops, offices, lobbies and dining rooms, some consumers decided to punish local merchants.

One downtown merchant reported being the recipient of this social media post from an “otherwise good customer.”

“So disappointed. Was planning to come by tomorrow for a new outfit. Just purchased online instead.”

Other island business owners and managers, even before the government mask mandate, reported hostile customer encounters as they, on their own, worked to do what they thought was best and right to protect employees and patrons from infection.

To understand how we got to this messy state takes some rewinding to the early days of the pandemic and a menagerie of conflicting messages.

Let’s start with Feb. 29, when U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams posted an exasperated message on Twitter:

“Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!

“They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

Setting aside the understandable confusion and head-scratching that masks would help health care workers but not the average American, people heard the message loud and clear that masks aren’t effective. Mission accomplished.

This week, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci faced a question from Rep. David McKinley, R-West Virginia, about whether he regretted not advising people more forcefully to wear masks earlier in the pandemic.

“OK, we’re going to play that game,” Fauci said. McKinley said it was a yes-or-no question.

“There is more than a yes or no, by the tone of your question,” Fauci said. “I do not regret that. Let me explain to you what happened. At that time, there was a paucity of equipment that our health care providers needed who put themselves daily in harm’s way of taking care of people who are ill.”

That wasn’t the message, however. The message was that masks don’t work, which apparently wasn’t true. The inescapable conclusion is health officials attempted to feed us all an expedient story and are now entangled in a web of their own spinning.

Americans don’t take well to paternal arrogance in which people in positions of authority attempt to tell us what they think we need to hear for our own good. The effort to protect frontline health care workers was a good and noble enough reason. The truth would have done just fine.

Had Adams and Fauci played it straight and told us the truth — masks are effective and can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but we need first to supply health care workers — we might not be in this mess.

And it’s a big partisan political mess that business operators, many of whom are still reeling from closures and worried about employees, are being forced to referee.

If politicians want Americans to take masks seriously, stop calling them “symbols” of communal responsibility and instead call them what they are — one part of a set of effective tools to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Several new studies published this month support wearing masks to curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus, according to The Washington Post. The broadest, a review funded by the World Health Organization and published in the journal Lancet, concluded that data from 172 observational studies indicate wearing face masks reduces the risk of coronavirus infection, according to The Washington Post.

Consumers shouldn’t direct their anger at businesses that are following mandates to protect their employees and others. They should reward them.

Although it’s understandable that some people are annoyed, skeptical and feeling manipulated, it’s time to get past that and mask up. Refusing to do so is not striking a blow for liberty; it’s an exercise in misanthropy.

• Laura Elder

 Laura Elder: 409-683-5248;


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(23) comments

Bailey Jones

“These are the times that try men’s souls” wrote Thomas Paine. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

One wonders how these sunshine patriots would respond to real hardship? In WW2 there were curfews, blackouts, actual rationing of food and gas, and a draft that forced thousands of young Americans to sacrifice their lives.

"What did you do in the Great Pandemic, Grandpa?"

"Not a damned thing, grandson."

And of course it's not about the masks, it's the economy, stupid. You remember the economy - that thing that all these libertarians and conservatives bemoaned the loss of just a couple of months ago.

"So disappointed. Was planning to come by tomorrow for a new outfit. Just purchased online instead."

And just like that, the economy didn't matter anymore.

philip wade

Had to reply because I just used that quote the other day. I had looked it up because I only knew the 1st few words of it and thought it was bone-chilling to read the rest of it as it so describes most of US today, almost prophetic. You are right, we have forgotten what true hardships are in this country, we are fat and spoiled babies, God forbid ... wake up America!

jimmy winston

Perfectly said.

Ray Taft

The reason we are seeing more cases of the China virus is because more people are being tested.

The sudden spike in cases was due to the release of backlogged data by health officials.

We can always test less instead of more and that would reduce new cases of covid-19, and the ability of Democrats and their media minions to scare people.

The World Health Organization has said healthy people don't need to wear face masks and that doing so won't provide added protection from the coronavirus.

The Washington Post is hardly a reliable sources for truth. They’re not a newspaper; they’re a propaganda newsletter for the DNC.

Masks-for-all for covid-19 is not based on sound scientific data according to politically unbiased research not reported in the Washington Post. Wearing masks is based on Democrats’ political wishes.

Our economy is rapidly improving and Democrats can’t have that. So the Democrats and their media minions try to frighten everyone. Democrats want a lockdown for citizens, while they march arm in arm on the streets with protesters. Hardly any scientific truth there.

Hope you’re wearing a mask Elder while in Galveston, because it doesn’t look like you are in your photo.

Are all the Democrats over at city hall all wearing masks?

jimmy winston

Gary Miller

It seems some bureaucrats can't learn that there is a far better way than wearing a mask to limit the spread of Covid 19. It's called a thermomiter. If you are infected the first symtem is temp rise. It's several hours after your temp rises before you can infect someone. Businesses are installing automatic temp monituring at their entrance and checking temp of employees every few hours. Keeping employees and customers safe. Then an ignorant ,CYA, bureaucrat orders them to wear a mask.

Gary Scoggin

A rise in temperature is not the first symptom of infection. The first symptom of infection: Nothing.

Carlos Ponce

Since Gary Scoggin's symptoms are ..... nothing, that means he has it![scared]

Ellen Morrison

I personally have multiple friends who have been infected and we’re 100% asymptomatic. Which means no temperature. Which means that what you’re saying doesn’t apply.

jimmy winston

Comment deleted.
Ray Taft

Excuse you for yelling. Real freedom loving Americans care.

Comment deleted.
Gary Miller

Jimmy> Tell me please how someone NOT infected wearing a mask helps anything. If not infected they can't infect anyone with or without a mask. Mask decrees are nothing but DO SOMETHING EVEN IF WRONG by bureaucrats. CYA.

Bailey Jones

Gary, I guess you're not interested in the science, so I'll just keep posting it for people who are:

"The time from exposure to symptom onset (known as the incubation period) is thought to be three to 14 days, though symptoms typically appear within four or five days after exposure. We know that a person with COVID-19 may be contagious 48 to 72 hours before starting to experience symptoms. Emerging research suggests that people may actually be most likely to spread the virus to others during the 48 hours before they start to experience symptoms."

"There are reports of asymptomatic infections (detection of virus with no development of symptoms) and pre-symptomatic infections (detection of virus prior to development of symptoms) with SARS-CoV-2, but their role in transmission is not yet known." - CDC

"There is evidence that the novel coronavirus can be spread before an individual develops symptoms. " - National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

"The incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus (becoming infected) and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, however can be up to 14 days. During this period, also known as the “presymptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious. Therefore, transmission from a pre-symptomatic case can occur before symptom onset. " - WHO

jimmy winston

can you tell me with 100% certainty that you are not infected? If so, then you should be sent off and studied by the X-men.

Bailey Jones

Just in case anyone who is interested in facts is reading -

Cases are rising - because the virus is spreading. We know that because more people are getting sick.

As of yesterday there are 223 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Galveston TSA (trauma service area), double the 111 we had just 23 days ago. Houston TSA shows 1343 COVID-19 hospitalizations, up from 482 on June 1st (+278%). State wide it's 4389, up from 1756 on June 1 (+ 250%).

Gary Scoggin

Glad you got your daily Democrat rant in, Ray. I think you missed yesterday and I was getting worried.

Terri Abraham

Ray, I'm not a Democrat, and I wear a mask.

I'm not sure where you got this huge fear of Democrats as scary, powerful beings that can spread a pandemic at will, but relax, it's not true!

Bill Broussard

Amen, Laura

Sharon Stratman

I posit that if the officials had emphasized that masks do work, they would not have stopped the run on them, regardless of whether health care workers needed them or not. Since the powers-that-be did not begin to stock up on masks in November or December when word came that a pandemic was coming -- or even earlier, since health officials have been saying for some time that a pandemic was inevitable at some point -- there were not enough masks for everyone. As the mother of a nurse in Queens, who had to bypass best practice of changing PPE between contacts with patients, and wear a single mask for her 12-hour shift in a covid ICU, I personally am glad the officials lied about masks, because she would have had less than one per shift, and would have almost inevitably caught the virus.

Too many people care about no one but themselves.

James Woodall

I am subscriber who purchases my subscription and allows another Galvestion County resident each period to receive a free paper over each 4 month period, so that I can keep up to date on what is going on on the island. I out of torture to myself, I read the comments related to many current articles and letters to the editor. The same suspects, with the same ol' reterhic, no matter what the topic is, BLAH BLAH, BLAH. I got my hair cut Tuesday for the first time since early February. The opportunity for most including myself now is over, but I kept thinking about a Leanard Woolsey "Hair Off Contest". That man has incredible hair and maybe in these troubling times, which is somethig we all could have agreed upon. For all the usaul suspects leaving nonsense, Blah, Blah, Blah!

James Woodall

I do not write comments on a professional basis, so please excuse the typos of the previous post. They neither reflect my being Democratic or Republican.

Virginia Stone

I knew the rise in positive testing was going to happen, I read, study and learn to understand the science and since the state decided to open up before the downturn in positive testing it was inevitable, I even put it on my calendar as the second week of June, a pretty good prediction but it was easy to predict and when the people went nuts acting as they could care less about masks and social distancing, the-phone-in-the

face-American-youth, staring into their devices for all the answers they want to hear and only what they want to hear and the adults who are even worse, constantly scrolling for something to justify their opinion, it's sad, the reality is Americans value money and power over life, over living a life of freedom, respect, and justice. Is it so difficult to just accept and learn what we need to do to live during a difficult time, the science, weeding out information that is false by fact-checking and fact-checking again, accepting facts even if it is inconvenient or financially painful, just doing the next right thing is all I'm saying.

Ted Gillis

“professional comments”. James what the heck is that? You pay Leonard $62.00 so that you can post comments, and that makes you a professional?

We should ALL get Pulitzer’s.

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