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Enforcing the mask order

Those of you who haven’t been wearing your mask when out in public, shame on you. And also, there may now be consequences for your dumb refusal to do the right thing.

Houston law enforcement officials will begin issuing fines and citations to people who do not comply with the state’s mask order, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Monday.

The mandate from Gov. Greg Abbott requires nearly all Texans to wear face coverings in most public settings and has been in effect since early July.

Turner’s announcement comes as Houston experiences a slight dip in its COVID-19 hospitalization levels and a decline in the rate of positive tests, despite a sustained number of daily new cases. The mayor said police would continue to issue warnings at first, as Abbott’s order requires, before fining people $250 for a second offense.

“For months, we have been focusing on education and not citations, but now I am instructing the Houston Police Department to issue the necessary warnings and citations to anyone not wearing a mask in public if they do not meet the criteria for an exemption,” Turner said.

Police Chief Art Acevedo, who is appointed by Turner, agreed with the mayor’s order, saying it would help limit the spread of the coronavirus. He said HPD’s tally of infected and quarantined officers has grown “very rapidly,” with 108 testing positive and 64 awaiting test results.

[…]

The mayor in April instructed police not to issue fines or citations for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s mask order, winning favor among some of Hidalgo’s critics. Before Monday, he had told police to largely issue warnings when enforcing the governor’s order.

On the one hand, it’s a bit puzzling that the order hadn’t had the threat of a fine behind it before now. On the other hand, given the wishy-washy nature of Abbott’s order, it’s easy to understand why the city wouldn’t be all that interested in putting police resources into “enforcement” of that order. Certainly, the police union was not interested in enforcing the mask order (and yes, that was motivated by the HPOU president’s ridiculous animosity towards Judge Hidalgo), to whatever extent you give their preference weight. I honestly don’t know what difference this is going to make, but I welcome the change. We are moving in the right direction, it would be very nice to move a little faster in that direction, and whatever reasonable step we can take to advance we should take. And boy, do I wish we didn’t have to have debates like this. How much better it would be if people just understood what they need to do and did it.

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23 Comments

  1. Charly Hoarse says:

    Most understand that drunk drivers kill people and that’s why we lock them up. I don’t see this situation as any different.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Well, it is a bit different Charly. Wearing a face cover might help, for sure, but there is not any strong evidence either way. Probably we can never know for certain. But, it is a small effort to make for potential benefit.

    However, The Science has shown that if you get infected with corona virus the chances are overwhelming that you will be asymptomatic or have a mild to moderate self limiting illness. Obesity makes your risk go way up, so they need to be encouraging people to eat healthy, lay off beer, get exercise. Only YOU can protect yourself.

    The rate in Houston has slowed a great deal, so Turner is a bit late. Although, the decrease is no reason to stop preventive measures at this time.

    However, where is BLM to protest Turner and his support for segregationist policies in housing?

  3. Brad says:

    Jason,

    Where is the KKK to protest Trump and the black person in his Cabinet?

    Hmmmm…..let’s put a retired neurosurgeon in charge of HUD. Doesn’t sound like a good fit.

  4. Flypusher says:

    “ However, The Science has shown that if you get infected with corona virus the chances are overwhelming that you will be asymptomatic or have a mild to moderate self limiting illness. ”

    Actually the science is showing that you could have nasty, lingering effects:

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/brain-fog-heart-damage-covid-19-s-lingering-problems-alarm-scientists

    It is grossly irresponsible to present this disease as not such a big deal when we still don’t know about everything it does. We could end up with many more people with pre-existing conditions. Wear the damn masks.

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    Flypusher, yes I am sure that you can have lingering effects, and even die, but the greatest number of those infected do not have any serious lasting effects.

    I guess I have somewhat of a reaction to the scare stories because someone in my family had a psychotic break from all those frightening stories and came to believe that they had COVID in the brain, which was not true, and became convinced and started to become paranoid and it was all downhill from there. So stop the damn frightening. Let’s look at this realistically.

  6. Flypusher says:

    “ greatest number of those infected do not have any serious lasting effects.“

    What number gets you to take this seriously? If “only” 30% (just to make an example) of cases had lasting effects, you could still truthfully say that the “greatest number” weren’t seriously affected, but that’s still over a million people (at this point). It’s such a major inconvenience to wear a mask (remember the whole point of this post?) to put a dent in that? Seriously? Are you really that selfish?

    “So stop the damn frightening.”

    Facts are facts. This disease could kill you. It could wreck your health. Yelling “Stop scaring me!” is not a useful response. Sorry about your family member, but it sounds like there were some preexisting issues there. Not warning people about this disease would have made things far worse.

    “Let’s look at this realistically”

    What is so unrealistic here?

  7. Jules says:

    Listen to Fly.

  8. Jason Hochman says:

    Flypusher, it is not unrealistic to take it seriously, I am not happy though, that there are two extremes presented to us: it is the most deadly, terrifying illness ever; or, it is entirely a hoax. Both are incorrect.

    The news doesn’t help us. It simply points fingers. Wear a mask is the only advice we get. Nothing, for example, about lose weight, when obesity is the biggest risk factor to have a severe problem.

    No compassion for the financial and psychiatric problems caused by the loss of jobs, isolation and loneliness, and other side effects of simply shutting down everything. They hand us the empty phrase “we’re all in this together.” Do you believe that? When the billionaires are raking in more billions than ever and ordinary workers and small business owners are struggling. When violent crime is surging. The owner of Amazon made several billions in one day. Doesn’t he also own a newspaper or something?

    The article that you linked wasn’t any kind of scientific conclusion. Just stories about a few individuals. Not any proof that their COVID infection itself caused their lingering problems, although, of course, it is possible. Look at shingles which can come from re-emergence of the chicken pox virus, so sure, this virus could have lingering effects, or future problems. But it is time for our news to stop spreading irrational fear, and finger pointing, and to stop using shaming and name calling to encourage mask wearing. Those tactics don’t work, and only cause persons who don’t want to wear a cover to become recalcitrant, defensive, and angry.

    By the way, the county seems to have not mentioned our colored coded threat level for a while. All of that great ingenuity to think it up, and we don’t get a daily update on the color coded threat.

  9. Flypusher says:

    “ Nothing, for example, about lose weight, when obesity is the biggest risk factor to have a severe problem.”

    People aren’t going to lose that much weight quickly enough to make any different right now. We have to be doing things that have an immediate impact. Masks and social distancing are those short term things, and they not mutually exclusive with losing weight.

    “ No compassion for the financial and psychiatric problems caused by the loss of jobs, isolation and loneliness, and other side effects of simply shutting down everything. ”

    No compassion from who? The city of Houston is going to pass out more $ to help people pay rent. The House passed a bill months ago that would continue aid for people who have been financially devastated by this. There are people who are trying to deal with that aspect, and unfortunately other people obstructing (WTF does a new FBI building have to do with pandemic response?). But the bottom line is that if you want the economy back, you must get the viral spread under control. So wear the damn mask.

    “ Not any proof that their COVID infection itself caused their lingering problems, although, of course, it is possible. ”

    Young person in perfect health, gets Covid, then has scars on lungs/heart inflammation/brain fog months later. It is not unreasonable to start with the presumption that the Covid did that. You’re going to keep studying it of course, and be prepared to revise recommendations if the data warrant it, but you are being grossly irresponsible if you do not warn people. Sweeping bad news under the rug is not a viable response.

  10. Jules says:

    Being obese doesn’t kill other people. Not wearing a mask does.

    And how did you learn obesity is a factor in covid? Some secret underground non-news source? I suggest you quit listening to the news and only listen to your secret source, since the news only upsets you and only makes you less likely to wear a mask.

  11. Jason Hochman says:

    Have I ever said not to wear a mask? It is a small thing to do that may help, but let’s not act like it is a panacea.

  12. Flypusher says:

    “ It is a small thing to do that may help, but let’s not act like it is a panacea.”

    You really can’t stop smacking strawmen can you? Who here has been even implying that it’s the only thing we need to do? It is necessary, but not sufficient.

  13. C.L. says:

    Me thinks someone has been cooped up in his Heights house too long.

    “Mask ?” “No Mask ?” “I’m so confused.” “Ahh, just fuck it. No mask it is.”

  14. Jason Hochman says:

    Yes, I have been getting very ill from isolation and being at fear level 15 too long. The medicine didn’t work; it made me faint, and really I’m not ill, just having a normal reaction to a real situation.

    However, I am doing better than wearing a mask. I’m not going near anyone.

    Not beating down a straw man, either. They are acting like you are saving lives if you have a mask. I get tested once a week. In order to save lives by wearing a mask I have to get the virus in order to prevent it from spreading. Besides, not going near anyone is way better. The fear mongers need to take responsibility for the damages that they have caused.

    “Being obese doesn’t kill other people. Not wearing a mask does.”
    If you are obese, and you have a complicated case of COVID, you are killing all the other people who are not getting the medical care that you are. Not wearing a mask isn’t killing people. Just like if you are obese, there is a certain amount of responsibility you have to take for yourself. If you are high risk, or if you live with high risk parents, grand parents, spouse, children, etc. it is up to you to determine the safest way to manage your risk. We assess risk all the time, and some of choose to travel in a car or airplane, smoke cigarettes, ride a surfboard, go downhill skiing. You determine the amount of risk you accept from such activities, and you determine what steps you will take to mitigate the risk.

  15. Jules says:

    Why do you get tested once a week if you don’t go near anyone?

  16. Manny says:

    Jason Hochman is probably a Republican troll, maybe Russian troll, paid to state stupid stuff, that only idiots like Trump and his cult believe.

    Weak minds must run in his family, thus the covid in the brain, if one chooses to believe that as Jason has a propensity to telling lies/making stuff up.

  17. Jason Hochman says:

    Jules, my insurance is doing a study, and they randomly chose me. They call me once a week and ask about any symptoms in the past week, activities I’ve done in the past week, and they send me a test kit. It has the antibody test that I do at home, and a nasal swab that I take, then pack it up and send it in.

  18. brad says:

    Manny,

    Republicans/Russians have started off-shoring their troll centers to Ghana.

    Bill,

    Have I ever said not to play matches in the middle of a dry forest? It is a small thing to do that may help, but let’s not act like it is a panacea.

  19. Jason Hochman says:

    brad, I wrote that about the mask being something that may help but not a panacea, not Bill. And I do agree with you, it is a small effort to make, which may help so why not do it. Stores are requiring it, and I don’t believe that the store workers should have to get into a confrontation over people who don’t comply. That goes for small businesses as well, which can’t afford a fine for not enforcing the order, but can’t afford to lose customers at this time.

  20. C.L. says:

    Manny, you may have taken your personal attacks to a new level.

  21. Bill Daniels says:

    I certainly seem to live rent free in Manny’s head, LOL!

    Bottom line on this mask business is, if wearing masks is effective, and not just useless virtue signalling, then there should be no reason America cannot vote in person, especially with extended early voting days.

    If it’s not safe for us to vote in person, because masks, in fact, do NOT work, then let’s admit that and stop with the virtue signalling about them everywhere else.

    So, which is it, y’all? This really isn’t one of those ‘a little from column A, a little from column B’ situations. It’s just basic logic. If we can line up at HEB for milk and bread with our masks, it should be just as possible to line up to vote.

  22. Jason Hochman says:

    Bill, the answer is that masks are a mitigation measure, never expected to be 100% effective. But reducing the amount of cases means contact tracing can work better, and stop one case from becoming one thousand. It also means that a number of the vulnerable people who would’ve been infected won’t be–which means that hospital admissions won’t go up out of control. Therefore, wearing a mask is meaningful. But–You aren’t completely safe at the grocery store even with a mask. I can’t say why or if voting is any more risky.

  23. Jules says:

    Masks are not required at polling locations.

    Masks protect others, not the wearer.

    There also is no requirement that voters do or do not grocery shop in person.

    The HEB argument is childish and ignorant.