The line outside the HomeGoods store on Stockdale Highway Friday afternoon presented a kind of cross-section of local attitudes toward what seemed an unsettled question of whether people should wear face masks in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Though everyone dutifully observed social distancing guidelines, some donned face coverings and some didn't as they waited to get into a store with a sign out front saying it "expects" shoppers to use masks.

The bare-faced among them objected to the discomfort masks can bring — and questioned their usefulness — while the masked ones said they were covering up for everyone's sake. One said it's unacceptable to walk around in public without a mask.

Face masks have become a visible social divide central to the contentious and high-stakes quarantine.

Though official public health guidance on the matter has remained largely unchanged, public attitudes are mixed as economies gradually reopen three months into the U.S. coronavirus crisis.

At issue, public health officials say, is success against an insidious disease that could, if things were to spin out of control, overwhelm hospitals' ability to treat the sick.

But for many, masks feel like an annoyance and even a threat to their personal right to go about their lives as they wish.

ACCEPTABLE RISK

Regina Frost and her daughter Keri Frost, of northwest Bakersfield, waiting in line at HomeGoods on Friday, said they consider masks irritating and at best a false sense of security against the virus's spread.

Both balked at the idea of being denied entry to a store if they won't wear one.

"It's my risk," said Regina, 56. "I'm taking it."

A few people away in line, Donna Beckman steered a center course. She wore a mask primarily to protect people around her, she said, but left it to others to decide for themselves whether to cover up.

"If you don’t, it's your right," the central Bakersfield resident said. "Do what you want to do."

KERN’S POLICY

Local public health authorities have been consistent but not forceful. Kern County government's official guidance remains that people should wear face coverings in public when groups are in close contact for sustained periods and normal social distancing measures cannot be applied.

"What's even more important,” county Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said by email, "is remaining vigilant and aware that COVID-19 is in our community and spreading, practicing regimented, thorough and frequent hand washing, not touching surfaces in public settings, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and staying home and away from others whenever you're sick."

Alsop said he hadn't noticed more people going without masks as compared to two months ago.

"I see many people wearing them. I see many people not wearing them," he wrote.

STAYING FLEXIBLE

Dr. Grace Tidwell, an associate medical director at Omni Family Health who's helped lead its coronavirus response, said she believes there's good evidence masks help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Omni has put in place a universal masking policy, she said, with exceptions for people whose disabilities stop them from wearing a mask. Such cases are documented, she said, and require the patient to be isolated.

It's often OK to go without a mask outdoors, Tidwell said. She doesn't wear one while running, she said, though that means occasional detours to avoid coming into close contact with others.

The bottom line is there are times when it's best to wear a mask and times when it's unnecessary, she said, adding, "We should be able to apply those principles to both sides of the spectrum.”

CONTENTIOUS ISSUE

Around the country, masks have taken a central role in tensions between governments trying to limit the virus's spread and groups pushing for greater freedom from health restrictions.

Last week, Orange County watered down a mandate that people wear masks in public, downgrading from a requirement to a "strong recommendation." The change came after the county chief health officer who imposed the order in late May received death threats and stepped down.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released specific guidance Friday advising that, among other recommendations, staff members at large events be required to wear face coverings and that attendees also be encouraged to do so.

The new guidelines, which kept with previous CDC advice about wearing face coverings in public, came as The Associated Press reported COVID-19 cases are rising in almost half of U.S. states, even as Americans return to work and venture out during summer.

The AP reported there was no single reason for the increases but that some authorities blame reopenings and lifting of stay-at-home orders and other restrictions.

LOCAL BACKSLIDING

The Californian reported that Kern was no longer meeting state thresholds for managing COVID-19 transmission as of Thursday. The county is now one of about a dozen in California on a state watchlist for COVID-19 transmission.

Local outbreaks are being driven, the state said, by skilled nursing facilities, state and federal prisons, and people from surrounding counties admitted to the county hospital.

In line outside HomeGoods on Friday, shopper Vickey Herrera went without a mask. While she sanitizes carefully and abides by other public health recommendations, she said, she's heard inconsistent information about when to use them.

Plus, they make her feel uneasy.

"Personally, when I would wear a mask, I would feel more fear," the southwest Bakersfield resident said.

Not far away in line, Palmdale resident Shelly Cortez said she doesn't think it's OK for people to go around in public without a mask.

She keeps extras in her purse in case one drops to the ground or someone she meets needs one.

"I think (people who won't wear a mask) are too confident that it's not going to spread," she said.

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(32) comments

Masked 2020

you have to wear a mask if you work in a hospital......even if you only have a GED........this isn't rocket science folks........figure it out ...... protect yourself.....protect someone else.....if you got a once of humanity in your bones just put something over your mouth and nose so we can try to get through this pandemic without having to live with the thought that I was a spreader in hindsight and helped annihilate folks that were less equipped to deal with the Virus....Peace to all those who virus will take.....

Jerry Todd

A friend sent me this from an OSHA certified gentleman: So Masks?

"I am OSHA 10 & 30 certified. I know some of you are too. I don’t really know WHY OSHA hasn’t come forward and stopped the nonsense BUT

I want to cover 3 things

• N95 masks and masks with exhale ports

• surgical masks

• filter or cloth masks

Okay so upon further inspection OSHA says some masks are okay and not okay in certain situations.

If you’re working with fumes and aerosol chemicals and you give your employees the wrong masks and they get sick you can be sued.

• N95 masks: are designed for CONTAMINATED environments. That means when you exhale through N95 the design is that you are exhaling into contamination. The exhale from N95 masks are vented to breath straight out without filtration. They don’t filter the air on the way out. They don’t need to.

Conclusion: if you’re in Stewart’s and the guy with Covid has N95 mask his covid breath is unfiltered being exhaled into Stewart’s (because it was designed for already contaminated environments, it’s not filtering your air on the way out)

• Surgical Mask: these masks were designed and approved for STERILE environments. The amount of particles and contaminants in the outside and indoor environments where people CLOG these masks very Very quickly. The moisture from your breath combined with the clogged mask with render it “useless” IF you come in contact with Covid and your mask traps it ,You become a walking virus dispenser. Everytime you put your mask on you are breathing the germs from EVERYWHERE you went. They should be changed or thrown out every “20-30 minutes in a non sterile environment”

Cloth masks: today three people pointed to their masks as the walked by me entering Lowe’s. They said “ya gotta wear your mask BRO” I said very clearly “those masks don’t work bro, in fact they MAKE you sicker” the “pshh’d” me.

By now hopefully you all know CLOTH masks do not filter anything. You mean the American flag one my aunt made? Yes. The one with sunflowers that looks so cute? Yes. The bandanna, the cut up t-shirt, the scarf ALL of them offer NO FILTERING whatsoever. As you exhale you are ridding your lungs of contaminants and carbon dioxide. Cloth masks trap this carbon dioxide the best. It actually risks health. The moisture caught in these masks can become mildew ridden over night. Dry coughing, enhanced allergies, sore throat are all symptoms of a micro-mold in your mask.

Ultimate Answer: N95 blows the virus into the air from a contaminated person.

The surgical mask is not designed for the outside world and will not filter the virus upon inhaling through it. It’s filtration works on the exhale. (Like a vacuum bag it only works one way)

Cloth masks are WORSE than none.

The CDC wants us to keep wearing masks. The masks don’t work.

Wash your hands. Sanitize your hands. Don’t touch stuff. Wash your phone. Don’t touch people. And keep your distance. Why? Because your breath stinks, your deodorant is failing, your shoes are old and stink, that shirts not clean, I like my space. Trust me I can hear you from here. Lots of reasons. But trust me. The masks do not work.

*Occupational Safety & Health Administration sited.

The top American organization for safety.

They regulate and educate asbestos workers, surgical rooms, you name it.

If your mask gives you security wear it, just know it is a false sense of security.

If stores stopped enforcing it no one would continue this nonsense." I might add, why the heck would you wear a mask outdoors or while driving alone?

Independent Voter

Jerry, thank you, thank you, thank you for injecting some sense into this mess! I suspect more people will become sick with COVID or other ailments from masks than not. But sheeple don't think, they just react. Tiresome. Easier to be led than to lead.

LoveOurFlag

You are going to get this county closed down again. THINK. You are not being led by science. You are being led by the president who wants to put 17000 people together with no coverings of any kind and have them shouting at the top of their lungs ! That is SO smart, right ? Please actually think for yourself.

LoveOurFlag

yep, tiresome. you are. Be a hero for once. WEAR a covering when around others. Show you are not a sheep.

Take action Now

Cloth masks are not to be worn over and over again. They are to be washed and sanitized daily. They do help restrict the spewing of moisture and germs when people sneeze or cough. It’s better than them coughing into their hands or clothes and then touching other clothes or items they may be shopping for. Such as in a department store. Nothing is perfect, but isn’t it better to try to protect yourself from others or as Clint Eastwood would say ,do you feel lucky today.

Masked 2020

give us a break Jerry......the homemade public mask keeps you from seeding the world if you are a possible carrier .....its like teaching your child to cough in the elbow.....it helps keep gets the economy open.......its patriotic.....wave the flag and wear a mask..........a homemade mask isn’t what folks in ICU are wearing in the hospitals………patients are tested and if their positive their isolated ….but everyone in the hospital wears a surgical mask….and no one from the outside world is let in…..you still cant visit….so minimizing the use of any type of mask is adding to the problem not helpful as all…..

LoveOurFlag

Jerry. This is incorrect on SO many levels.

LoveOurFlag

Ok. Each piece of information is essentially correct. The errors are in the application.

1. N95 mask DOES PROTECT the wearer and does NOT PROTECT the people around the wearer. So. Everything correct in your statement there.

2. Surgical masks. Surgical masks DO help protect the sterile field. Translation. They DO stop some droplets which may or may not contain virus from exiting the mask. ALL of the droplets ? No. Conclusion. They provide a fair amount of protection to the sterile field. IE. Those people in proximity to the wearer.

3. Cloth coverings. Provide extremely little protection to the wearer but DO limit the amount and distance an exhaled breath can travel LESSENING the spread of viral droplets. Is all that clear ? Good. Wear coverings around others. Simple.

She Dee

At this point, I no longer care about transmitting my germs to others. I wear a mask to protect myself. I honestly don't care if the people who won't wear a mask live or die. I only want them to stay away from me! When they invade my space, I leave or just do not go into a business that has too many people crammed into a small space that is sharing the same air!!!

Independent Voter

Yes, spoken by patient, woke, tolerant progressive.

casones

PROGRESSIVE? Wake up! CONSERVATIVE HEADLINE- "KING TRUMP MOVES CONVENTION BECAUSE NC GUV REFUSES TO GURANTEE FULLY PACKED ARENA WITH NO MASKS!" This person would not attend that rally! You are clueless even in your ignorant "LABELS"!

Independent Voter

LOL Casones! Clueless? Jerry presented cold hard facts about masks and you and your *Label Alert* Progressive friends completely dismiss it. You and the rest of the sheep can match right of the proverbial cliff if you like, but the rest of us aren't going to follow. By the way, clueless, let spell check assist you. Would enhance your posts rather than highlight your shortcomings. GUARANTEED.

Unionpacific

What is so fake about the shutdown to face masks is that this is pushed by the Bill Gates foundation and WHO which is heavily funded by Gates. He is not a medical expert and neither is the head of WHO.

Queen of All

But the people who Are Experts say to wear them. I don't think that they have an ax to grind. And I don't have a string of letters after my name. So I will yield to the actual Experts. And I don't think Bill Hates is involved in a conspiracy. The whole country has gone mad with insane conspiracy theories and we are being led by a madman who promotes them to make it easier to run his base.

I wish everyone would calm down and quit acting and talking crazy. But it won't happen as long as people keep stirring the pot. I don't understand why the People haven't risen up and demanded that Trump step down. He is, quite Obviously, destroying America.

Take action Now

I don’t understand why people are making a fuss over wearing a mask and being an infringement on their rights. Why do we have to have car insurance? I’m a safe driver, I don’t speed or drink and drive. It’s to protect me from others and other people from me if I have a car malfunction- brakes,etc.

Let’s talk about the pandemic- we are very lucky it’s not as contagious as first feared, but it still bad. The Spanish pandemic of 1918 had 500 million cases with 50 million deaths, world population was 1.7 billion. Today world population is 7.4 billion with approximately 7.5 million cases.with deaths of 420,000. The United States has over 25% of all cases and over 25% of all deaths. Yet we have only 5% of the total world population. We have a problem of respect of ourselves and others.

I respect businesss that require people to wear a mask upon entering- shows they care about all their customers safety. I would rather lose one customer who won’t wear a mask, than lose 5 customers who got sick because I didn’t require a mask and got sick. Remember this people can catch the Corona virus, but not show any symptoms for up to 14 days - but they are contagious.

Independent Voter

Take Action, although I disagree with you about masks, I respect and greatly appreciate your thoughtful post on this. I have no issue with those that feel safer and desire an added measure of protection. The reason I'm not sold on the idea of mandatory masks is because I feel we should be given a choice, particularly as it pertains to what I must affix or apply to my body. I feel the same way about seatbelts - I choose to buckle up but if others wish to risk it and not to wear them, that's their business and a law shouldn't be needed to enforce it. But that law exists. It is unenforceable, just as a mandatory mask requirement would be. In general, most Americans prefer to make decisions for themselves. I have been forced to comply with a mask requirement at times - been my choice when to comply and when to refuse to comply - based on my needs and well-being. We should all have that choice. I will not to go amusement parks so long as masks are required - it's silly. But I don't begrudge those who do. It's their business. I will, however, submit to a mandatory face mask policy enforced by Kern County if those launching illegal fireworks nightly the past month or so submit to the county's rules and regulations providing their use.

casones

"I choose to buckle up but if others wish to risk it and not to wear them, that's their business and a law shouldn't be needed to enforce it. But that law exists. It is unenforceable, " UNENFOCEABLE? ASK THE THOUSANDS WHOM HAVE PAID HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN FINES SINCE THE SEAT BELT LAW WENT INTO EFFECT! "most Americans prefer to make decisions for themselves" YES, PERSONAL ONES LIKE BUYING A CAR, TV, ORDERING ON-LINE, VOTING, ETC. WAKE UP! YOUR LIFE IS RESTRICTED! You have to respond to a jury summons, obey traffic and criminal laws, pay your mortgage, rent car payment on time! Pay your utilities, your phone, interest charges, and late payments. You must file taxes when necessary, have your children attend school or prove you can home school.You must fill out the census, job applications, and provide insurance information to DMV! You see a doctor and you must provide insurance or declare no insurance. Go to an atm and you must enter a pin! You must show id for alcohol and tobacco purchases. EXACTLY WHAT DECISIONS DO AMERICANS PREFER TO MAKE FOR THEMSELVES? IGNORANCE OR NAIVITY is not an answer!

Take action Now

Independent Voter- I noticed you made a comment about seatbelts. The law was passed by insurance companies claiming it would reduce car insurance costs (which they never passed on to the consumers). But let’s say we get in an accident and it’s my fault but you were not wearing a seatbelt. My lawyer will argue on my behalf that you must take some responsibility for part of your injuries because you were not wearing a seatbelt, in order to reduce my total liability. Word to the wise if you get in an accident make sure you say to law enforcement “ thank goodness I was wearing a seatbelt, even if you weren’t.

Jerry Todd

For me, that is the bottom line. Fauci, who is in bed with Gates, has changed projected death rates, confused us over treatments, promised a vaccine, even though they still can't come up with one for HIV. No way would I accept a vaccine that has Bill gates' demonic fingers in the pie.

Blue state governors like Newsom, are making it difficult for the people, especially if you include his trying to kill the oil industry and sending all our snowmelt to the ocean, leaving the growers 80% short of water to grow the food we all need to survive.

Independent Voter

Wisdom, Jerry, has no place in these forums. Or on Facebook. Or anywhere, apparently. But I certainly appreciate it.

Moardeeb

There is little wisdom in Bakersfield. Agreed.

Jerry Todd

These forms are a good place to develop wisdom. If people are open to discussion and comparing notes. Overtime we find out what works. What is common sense. And what is emotional claptrap. Wisdom like childlikeness or two things at once you realize you have it you haven’t. For my part, humility is my strong suit. LOL

Nevermind

The only one confused is your President, who failed miserably. Hopefully the nation can survive another 6 months.

casones

DITTO

casones

OH YEAH! THE WATER PROBLEM IN CALIFORNIA WHICH HAS EXISTED FOR YEARS BECAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALL OF A SUUDEN NEWSOME's FAULT? Your REPUBLICAN guv GRAY DAVIS was recalled! The water problems facing California BEGAN WITH THE "RED" BROWN FAMILY! OH YEAH THE OIL KILL! YOUR KING TRUMP AND HIS "BFF s" SAUDIS and PUTIN, AGREED TO CUT OIL PRODUCTION DECREASING JOBS AND RAISING OUR PRICES AT THE PUMP! BLUE STATE BS! RED STATE DISASTER!

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@cajones: Gray Davis was a Democrat, you moron...

Who is the "Red" Brown family? Pat Brown and Jerry Brown were both solid blue.

Take a few days off- you're embarrassing yourself at this point...

Veritas

Wow! Someone went off the deep end. Get help casones, seriously.

Jerry Todd

Careful! Dare not say anything against WHO. FB will cut you off at the knees.

casones

YOUR KING CRITICIZES WHO FOR HIS DISASTROUS LACK OF RESPONSE!

Independent Voter

Casones loses his head this morning. LOL! The more he uses ALL CAPS, the more obvious his utter failures in this conversation. You lose, Casones, again and again! LOL! The most absurd, disrespectful lot here remind us why Trump will win again in November. Thanks to Dweeb and Casones and their Progressive friends, fence sitters get a good look at what a vote for Biden and the looney left represent. Every ridiculous comment nets two bonus votes for Trump. LOL! How about another rambling string of ALL CAPS, eh, Casones? LOL!

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Easy there cajones, looks like somebody triggered you....again.... :)

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