Masked-Up OBcean on Front Cover of the ‘San Diego Reader’

by on December 9, 2022 · 6 comments

in Health, Media, Ocean Beach

If you get a chance to pick up the Dec. 7 edition of the San Diego Reader, you’ll find OBcean Deanna Polk, all masked up giving the peace sign, on the front cover.

The paper’s frontcover article by Siobhan Braun is all about “How Covid tore San Diego friends and neighbors apart.” Polk is interviewed and spouts a lot of good common sense, but another person interviewed Amy Reichert, a co-founder of the very controversial group ReOpen San Diego, doesn’t. Polk and Reichert are diametrically opposed.

Here is the section on Deanna Polk :


“I got into fights,” recalls Deanna Polk. “I got kicked out of stores so many times! It was mostly for telling staff and shoppers to mask up, or for demanding people stand six feet away from me. I didn’t care! This is my life! People would get mad. They would berate me and call me a sheep. They would say I had fallen for propaganda. It was sad, especially to hear those who I agreed with politically berate me. It was coming from both the right and the left. They were in total denial. It was a hard spot to be in when I had the knowledge base and people were not accepting it.”

I am sitting with Polk in her living room in Ocean Beach. On the wall behind me, a Bernie Sanders figurine sits on a tiny folding chair inside a shadow box, sporting a disposable mask and wearing his famed oversized mittens — a miniature representation of the viral Sanders photo taken during Biden’s Inauguration. Polk is wearing a patterned peasant top and white shorts. Her salt and pepper hair falls past her shoulders, traveling midway down her back.

Within the first few minutes of our meeting, Polk lists her qualifications for supporting government shutdowns and mask mandates during the pandemic. “I have a Bachelor of Science in nursing with public health certification, a minor in anthropology, and I have a Master of Science in Homeland Security with a specialization in science and technology. I was the public health coordinator for the first online public disaster drill. I was trained by the CDC during the Ebola crisis for quarantine. So, I went into the [covid] pandemic with a broader understanding than most people. I am still horrified over how it was handled — and mishandled.” She grimaces. “We have a dumbed down society, especially when it comes to public health,” she says, letting out a lengthy sigh.

Throughout the pandemic, Polk was on a mission to counter that dumbing down with education. She voiced her concerns regularly, whenever and wherever she could: on her local Nextdoor app, in Facebook posts, in confrontations with unmasked people in her neighborhood, or via countless phone calls to local leaders. Polk believed that she needed to be vocal in order to contain the virus. In the early days of the pandemic, she was horrified to discover that her local mail carrier did not wear a mask. “I opened my door and saw he did not have a mask on. [Postal carriers] are supposed to be wearing masks! I said, ‘You need to be wearing a mask.’ After that, he started harassing me every time he [delivered my mail]. I had to get the postal manager to pull him off this route because he was threatening me. He would get in my face, and he refused to wear a mask. Some of the Amazon drivers were the same. I got busy reporting these guys because they were like Typhoid Mary. They had no idea what they were doing.”

It got to the point where the country did not look to her like the one in which she had grown up. “I love being an American,” she says. “I don’t like seeing a million Americans die, especially when we had the knowledge base to prevent those deaths, and so many purposely choose to ignore it. In America, we are supposed to be about helping each other. That got twisted around during the pandemic. It became, ‘No, I need mine! I don’t give a fuck about you! I am not wearing a mask! I don’t care if your grandma dies.’” Polk exhales deeply, as if releasing pent up disappointment, before continuing, “Back in the early part of the century, we had to put quarantine signs on houses when people had measles and stuff. But now, people get offended, or don’t want to get categorized or whatever. But it worked!”


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris December 10, 2022 at 7:15 am

It’s a somber fact of life, but often doing the right thing comes with consequences and we have to willfully accept that.


Kate Bell December 10, 2022 at 6:22 pm

I totally get where she’s coming from, being a nurse and a public Health Nurse, as well. It’s been so frustrating throughout this experience to know these basic, simple actions available and a lot of people ignoring them. Isn’t it interesting that the word ignore is the root of ignorance?


sealintheSelkirks December 10, 2022 at 11:57 pm

Chris: Somber? That’s it? Ahahahahahaha. Surely you can think up, shall we say, a livelier and more vivid description than that? Express your true feelings!

I completely agree with her and understand explicitly what she had gone through. These people suck.

I’ve gotten in fights with people who were literally screaming and spit-coughing at my face, a couple times parrying hands grabbing for my mask or my arm or front of my coat. Heard all the barbed words and utterly hate-spewing name-calling coming out of both genders’ Typhoid Mary mouths.

I haven’t had anyone throw a punch. Yet. I’m still masked up and have no problem replying with the science to these people so maybe my luck will hold. They don’t like science, boy do they not like hearing it. They do like the latest Marvel Comics hero movies that were written for 8 yr olds in the 1930s… I’ve also been asked why I don’t believe in Jesus because he’ll keep me safe from this disease. That gets a little weird…

Is dumb a verb? One cannot get through at all. But then one shouldn’t expect an eight year old to understand much about infectious deadly diseases.

It’s why I still occasionally throw a few of the latest Covid articles up on the RAG’s ‘San Diego Covid Experts, here we go again’ thread. Just because it seems most people don’t WANT to know doesn’t mean there aren’t people that are still thinking and taking at least some precautions. I try to limit it to fairly pertinent information…

Thanks OB RAG staff for allowing my posts on that by the way!

FACT: We are still in Year 3 of this Pandemic. Hundreds are still dying every day while thousands are still getting sick some over and over within weeks of the last bout (very short antibody resistance). Having their brains physically shrink? I mean, you want to risk that???

And then there are the roughly 17 MILLION people who are dealing with the awful Sequelae/Long Covid this disease leaves behind. Same happened during my Grandpa Merle’s generation with the 1918 Pandemic.

There’s a lot more people in this country now than then, bound to see that number of long-term sick continue to climb, and as we have no social safety net for anybody who gets sick and stays sick, this isn’t by any measurement over with.

My only real hope is that Covid won’t mutate into a much more virulent strain but there are no guarantees it won’t. With all the hosts available, and as quickly as the variants are coming out? Risky behavior indeed.

In general, the US hasn’t learned a thing from this and there really is nothing in place that is truly preventative or is ready to get any kind of containment going when it happens again. Trumpie disbanded the Rapid Response Teams.

And it is the infectious disease experts that say when not if.

There was a spike after Thanksgiving among the older people, and I’m sure this holiday season is going to cause the same thing. Then the party crowd at New Year’s will do the same thing for the young age group. Ain’t this fun?



Chris December 11, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Your first paragraph confused me and I’m not sure what you’re tying to convey. We are in agreement that she is right. All I said was that doing the right thing can sometimes come with consequences that we have to accept, something I belive she would agree with.


Ramoaner December 11, 2022 at 12:09 pm

But wearing a mask makes it literally impossible to hyperventilate ….


retired botanist December 11, 2022 at 3:42 pm

Yeah, a disappointing read. All I can say is I’m vaxed, boosted, flu-‘d, and masked the minute I go anywhere into a store, clinic or other space (which is limited), and eschew large, unmasked venues, except the very occasional restaurant. My daughter’s m-i-l (a 50-something yr old nurse) is currently in hosp, intubated, with RSV and pneumonia. B/c she also has lupus, this is a big deal. WTF is wrong w/ people who can’t understand transmission? Its just so hard to understand such a selfish culture. I’m not willing to berate people, unlike this woman, and kudos to her, but I’m certainly willing to adjust my lifestyle and habits, even perhaps in perpetuity, to help the health of others and myself. Its such a small gesture, helping others stay alive and healthy…whether its this year, or next year, or whatever pandemic comes next. How petty our culture has become- such a small ‘ask’.


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