A Short Writer’s Rant: ‘Where Are the Masks? And Where Is Everybody?’

by on January 19, 2022 · 14 comments

in Health, San Diego

By Paul Krueger

I recently spent a week in San Francisco, where every restaurant, coffee shop and bakery politely requested proof of my vaccinations before showing me to a table or preparing my take-out order. Some employees even politely asked for my ID, to make sure the names matched.

Everywhere I went, everyone was masked, and took pains to socially distance.

Back here in San Diego, not a single dining establishment has asked for my vaccine card.

I see too many people inside stores without masks.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who commanded public attention every day at with his well-orchestrated warnings and pronouncements at the height of the 2020-21 pandemic, is silent about the need mask up, says nothing about the wisdom of requiring restaurants to check vaccine cards, and isn’t repeatedly and forcefully urging those who haven’t been vaccinated to do so, as the Omicron variant rages.

County Health officer Wilma Wooten has also disappeared from the public eye, when we arguably most need her guidance.

Can someone please help me figure this out?

Paul Krueger, Talmadge

Paul Krueger is a writer, journalist, former TV producer and resident of Talmadge. Originally sent to the SDU-T as a Letter to the Editor

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Bearded OBcean January 19, 2022 at 10:43 am

I’m not sure why local establishments would ask to see proof of vaccination here since one isn’t needed. It seems much more draconian to require people to show proof of vaccination to get into an establishment than to not require proof.

As for masks, what’s the endgame when more than 80% of eligible people have received their shots in San Diego?

If I’ve had 3 shots and contracted the virus, what’s the point of it?

Is there a limiting principle to any of this?


Frank Gormlie January 19, 2022 at 10:52 am

I’d say what’s draconian is the 854,000 Americans who have died from COVID.


Bearded OBcean January 19, 2022 at 11:27 am

But is there an endgame or limiting principle to restrictions?

Aren’t we now at the point where we have to endure just a shred of risk to live our lives? If not now, when? After our 6th shot?


Frank Gormlie January 20, 2022 at 8:17 am

It’s a good thing you didn’t live in San Diego during WWII; you would have objected to having your window shades down at night, I’m sure. You would have violated the ban on night driving by civilians. IF you think we’re restricted now, go back in time to 1942. Call me when you get there.


Sorry not Sorry January 20, 2022 at 11:13 am

Do you mean “the good ole days”?


Chris January 19, 2022 at 11:02 am

Having all three shots drastically lessens your symptoms. I finally had it two weeks ago and at worst it felt like a bad cold.


Chris January 20, 2022 at 11:43 am

One thing is for sure. Covid is now an endemic and will never completely go away.


Chris January 19, 2022 at 10:56 am

Pure speculation on my part, but I have a feeling Nathan and Lorena are laying low right now. They have had some real threats against them.


Justine B January 19, 2022 at 1:58 pm

I was in San Francisco this past weekend and thought the same thing! Although the vaccination rate for residents of San Diego is around 78%, we have way too many tourists who aren’t. I am vaccinated and expect I won’t die if I catch it (again) but I don’t want to be sick either. The end game doesn’t have to be death to not want to catch an illness!


judith curry January 19, 2022 at 4:50 pm

I agree Paul. We have season tickets to the Gulls Hockey games. Before you can go in you must show your personal ID and proof of vaccine. And on the marquee, flashing every few minutes is a neon sign that says that everyone “MUST WEAR A MASK REGARDLESS OF THEIR VACCINE STATUS.” and NO ONE near us wears a mask – not in the front of us, the side of us, behind us, etc. To make matters worse the camera highlights various members of the audience doing stupid things – and not one of those people are wearing a mask. I feel like I am sitting in an aquarium filled with bacteria. Notes to the GULLS on their evaluation page has brought absolutely no response. I realize masking is hard to enforce – but if it is going to be a factor in watching the game then they hell better enforce it.


obcliffhanger January 20, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Fed up physician here. I believe the rant that follows will be seen as justified by most.

What the pandemic has shown us is how utterly selfish so many Americans are. Those of us in healthcare are fed up the idiocy of unvaxxed people infecting others, including us in the hospitals. If the people who complain the loudest now about getting vaxxed or being restricted in any way had done so with the rest of us earlier, we wouldn’t even be in this boat. It’s likely that omicron, or the next variant, would not have even had the opportunity to replicate enough times to become a factor. Sorry, but where we are is their fault. Remember the 6 weeks of daylight we had back around August? Yeah. Gone because of them. They decided to believe the blatant stupidity promulgated by Fox and our own local far-right, Fascist Crap Factory, calling itself One America News.

Bearded OBcean’s opinions, and the availability of a forum to put them out there, are part of the problem. Thanks for being vaccinated, man, BUT:
1) “I’m not sure why local establishments would ask to see proof of vaccination here since one isn’t needed.” That’s both medical BS and basic humanity 101 BS. It’s medical BS – vaccinations drastically reduce risk and nearly entirely eliminate your risk of hospitalization and death. It’s humanity 101 BS – any local establishment that would ask for vax proof is being … responsible. Responsible to its customers, responsible to its community and, in the short and long-term, even responsible to its own economic interests. No shutdown means open doors.
2) “It seems much more draconian to require people to show proof of vaccination to get into an establishment than to not require proof.” “Much more draconian” – would that mean “draconian-er”? Jeez. Reaching into your pocket to show your proof of vaccination now is a draconian measure. Right. Such inconvenience. (see Editor Dude’s comments above re: WWII)
3) You had “3 shots and contracted the virus”. And lo and behold, you’re here to tell us all about it! That’s “the point of it.” A vaccine doesn’t mean NO infection, it means hopefully no significant disease, morbidity, or, let’s see, yeah, DEATH. That’s “the point of it.” When the U.S. unnecessarily reaches a million dead by summer? That’s “the point of it.” When our kids are all back in school consistently? That’s “the point of it.” It also means recognizing that what may be your vaccinated “shred of risk” is a potential death threat to your neighbor or the person in line in front of you. (example: SCOTUS Gorsuch probably has a “shred of risk”. But because he’s shown himself to be a selfish ass, he’s willing to allow his selfish ass, “my freedom first” behavior to have the force of a potentially lethal risk for another human, SCOTUS Sotomayor, who has a significant preexisting condition).
4) And you ask about “the endgame” or “the limiting principle”? It depends on our fellow San Diegans wearing a mask, being fully vaccinated, encouraging their family and friends to do the same. That includes our neighbors here in OB with the Don’t Tread on Me flags, the Ashli Babbitt signs, the anti-Fauci signs (looking at you, on Ebers), or the black, white and blue striped US flags that apparently mean you have a love of law enforcement but not so much for the Capitol Police force. Go talk to THEM.

COVID is likely to evolve into a persistent viral vector that hopefully will only require something like an annual flu-shot to reduce spread and virulence. It’s likely here to stay. There will always be a shred of risk. How we get to that desired point is up to society acting together, but that apparently sounds ‘socialist” to some people. So … we’re toast.


Bearded OBcean January 20, 2022 at 3:31 pm

That’s a lot of straw men you’re knocking down. Again you have no endgame, just a lot of ranting. If fully vaccinated people can still pass along the virus, then what? We also shelter in place until you feel safe?

We know there are a group of people who will never get vaccinated. That’s a fact and won’t change. So what do we do about it? People who are going to get the vaccine already have. Yearly boosters like the flu shot are probably going to happen. But do we just continue in perpetuity wearing masks, social distancing, showing papers to enter businesses? Will kids in school ever see the faces of their classmates? Go ahead and yell some more, since you’re a physician.

I’m sorry that people can have opinions you don’t like on message boards. That’s a rough way to live. People can disagree about our current approach and not be fascists or fox news-watching right wingers.


Bearded OBcean January 20, 2022 at 4:22 pm

The problem with the discourse, as the good doctor has demonstrated for us, is that the goalposts keep shifting. Someone can do everything that’s been asked of them in the name of public health over the past two years, and as soon as they question what the end game is, or the limiting principle to continued restrictions, they’re ridiculed for not being sufficiently concerned about people dying or humanity or that we wouldn’t have pulled our shades down at night during WWII.

Well, we can furrow our brows as much as we want, and feel so morally superior because we’re so concerned like the doctor has shown us, but if you’ve had three shots and are scared of leaving your house and getting sick, then there is no end game, particularly since vaccines don’t prevent the spread, nor the contraction of the virus.

That’s fine, but don’t hide behind strawmen. Just admit that you don’t want the restrictions to end. Because otherwise, our children will never take their masks off at school, see their friends smile, they’ll hesitate to be near other people and will grow up like delicate little flowers who are afraid of everything around them.


obcliffhanger January 20, 2022 at 5:05 pm

I want the restrictions to end as much as anyone.
And I work in healthcare, with kids.

There were no straw men there. The admitted rant comes from a position of knowledge and experience. Not some perceived physician condescension or moral superiority that you imply, but just knowing the details and dealing with it every day. And seeing how this virus ravages people when the solution was so damn simple.

There are so many details that won’t be heard, intentionally or not, in the news cycle. If you’re vaccinated, your viral burden is low even if positive or mildly symptomatic. Your risk of transmission is lower. And you’re less likely to be reservoir for the viral replication that brings about the conditions for yet another variant. So everyone else who isn’t – get vaxxed dammit.

I’m sorry you don’t like being called out when you posted something that was BS on message boards, but I wasn’t calling you a fascist. That’s for our local Fox/OAN acolytes to ponder.

The endgame is a moving goalpost, as you said, BeardedOBcean. In medicine there’s always a desired or planned endpoint or endgame, but it’s always subject to changing conditions, just like this pandemic. The endgame we see is hopefully this summer, with relaxing guidelines between now and then, but an understanding that waves could well be recurrent need to back up strategies. The endgame is to hope these blips are transient and the virus is less virulent. The endgame is an annual, possibly oral, antiviral.

Again, I take care of kids, so we’ve seen first hand what they’ve been through and what we want for them. No, we don’t want endless prevention measures. We don’t want fear to rule their lives. We don’t want their activities curtailed. We want them as healthy as possible. They are certainly growing up with experiences that will change who they become as adults, especially those who have lost family members.

So again, glad you’re vexed Bearded OBcean, and apologies for the rant, but you said some things that definitely warranted comment and correction.

Those of us in healthcare are truly spent.
Thanks. I love our community, but Editor Dude, I’m all done here.


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