Professor “LMC” Lisa Marie Coppoletta
However, in the reality of 2021, face coverings protect our citizens from a deadly worldwide pandemic. Failure to comply in public spaces is not only irresponsible; it enacts a potentially fatal form of entitlement.
There is also research that masks may be completely ineffective.
If you have an “issue” with masks, then perhaps consider creating a sense of personal style. As Doc would say, “The way I see it, if you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”
I applaud the discussions held recently by the San Marcos City Council.
This past Tuesday, the City Council had three agenda items on COVID-19.
Agenda Item 1: “Receive status reports and updates on response to COVID-19 pandemic, and provide direction to Staff.”
Agenda item 9: “Consider approval, by motion, that authorizes the submission of a letter to Governor Greg Abbott from the San Marcos City Council expressing the body’s collective request for more aggressive public safety and health measures related to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.”
Agenda item 14: “Hold discussion and provide direction to staff related to the passage of one or more emergency orders related to the current disaster declaration stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The draft to the letter discussed for item 9 read as follows:
February 3, 2021
[insert correct recipient information]
Dear esteemed elected officials,
The pandemic continues to cause concern across the nation. We, the undersigned, ask that the three of you support Texas municipalities’ efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis.
Municipalities should be permitted to enforce CDC guidelines and emergency protocols that will protect and benefit their unique situations and constituents.
We must be supported in our efforts to save lives and prevent further devastation to our communities.
Please coordinate the necessary executive orders or legislative actions that allow cities seeing a surge in COVID-19 deaths to adopt and enforce mandatory face-covering and social distancing orders to avoid the need for another lockdown.
Our constituents continue to see several deaths every week, and we know through our contact tracing efforts that many of the cases in our area are coming from family gatherings, as well as school campuses.
Additionally, cases have been tied to restaurants and other businesses, some of which in our community openly invite their customers not to wear masks.
As elected officials ourselves, we know how difficult it has been to navigate this pandemic and balance the needs of commerce against the need to stop the spread of the virus.
However, we have now begun to see some of our small businesses close for more than 2 weeks as the owners themselves have taken ill with Covid-19.
Let us come together behind the recommendations of our scientists with enforceable measures while we wait for vaccine distribution to reach peak effectiveness.
We have reached out to our neighboring communities for their support and hope that our shared concerns encourage your organizations to act quickly.”[add signature lines]
Show me the Mask: City Super Spreaders Slackers.
I appreciate the perspectives of both sides of the discussion from our elected representatives. Both Melissa Derrick and Maxfield Baker seem concerned that citizens are not “masking up.” Mark Gleason and Shane Scott seem to be more flexible.
Lacking from the agenda items is packet material and public discourse that city employees and contractors are not “masking up.” Nor are they keeping a safe social distance when not performing work.
The real “super spreaders” are those under the purview of Bert Lumbreras. Unlike the city manager, the city council has no authority over private contractors building high rises and road projects regarding day-to-day operations. As Biff would say, “You got a real attitude problem, McFly. You’re a slacker.”
How can the municipality be a credible enforcement arm when employees and contractors under its purview have enacted a year-long performative contradiction? While downtown businesses are struggling to stay afloat, city workers are still collecting paychecks, have health insurance, and get to work from home.
Since March, I have been emailing and placing phone calls outlining concerns to the City Manager’s office about contractors and city staff not following CDC requirements.
Governor Abbot’s Executive Order #29 states, “Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space …”
On February 05, 2021, I emailed photographs to the city council and executive management team of city employees performing road work downtown, violating Executive Order #29.
Workers were not wearing masks and nor were they socially distancing. City workers were watching their colleagues dig a hole with machinery.
Executive Order is quite clear “(b) maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household. . . This Friday, It appeared contractors and city employees had on face masks. It should not have taken 11 months.
First, if the city drafts such a letter, Bert Lumbreras needs to make sure his organization enforces mandatory face-covering and social distancing orders to avoid the need for another lockdown.
Second, the letter could emphasize that San Marcos is often recognized as the fastest-growing city in the United States.
Third, the letter may want to identify our diverse population elements, which may be more vulnerable. San Marcos also has a transient university college population.
Fourth, the letter could bullet out the specific actions that could be undertaken.
Fifth, status reports and updates on response to the COVID-19 pandemic at city council meetings should provide city staff and contractors data on infection and recovery rates.
Sixth, Small businesses may be concerned about Saul Gonzalez’s proposal that any enforcement in San Marcos should be “complaint-driven.” Enforcement via complaints provides an opportunity for retaliation if a “Back to the Future” Biff has a beef with a locally owned business.
An Added Layer of Protection: Show Me the Legal Language
The City of San Marcos’ bidding process outlines protection levels for workers on many matters. Nevertheless, there is no legal language to prevent COVID-19.
Road contractors and apartment building crews purchase soft drinks at local corner stores, eat at restaurants, and interact with city staff. Yet, there is no added protection layer outlined in legal contracts.
Take, for example, this “Invitation for Bid.” There are provisions for “the suits” to be protected during the bidding process.
Nevertheless, there are no requirements in the Invitation for Bid regarding COVID-19 safety protocols.
The contract also has policies for no smoking and OSHA standards. Nevertheless, there is no legal language stating requirements for face coverings.
“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious . . . “
– Dr. Brown, “Back To The Future”
There is scientific evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted outdoors.
Here are some key points from a study, “Local atmospheric factors that enhance air-borne dispersion of coronavirus – High-fidelity numerical simulation of COVID19 case study in real-time” by Kiran Bhaganagar Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas, San Antonio and Sudheer Bhimireddy Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas, San Antonio:
- “Most of the existing studies have demonstrated the dispersion as the dominant mechanism indoors for the spread of the disease (e.g., Jayaweera et al., 2020); however, depending on the combination of factors in the environment, the airborne spread of the disease is highly possible.”
- “For instance, during the April 2, 0700 CDT release, the blob moves in a north-west direction, and it is 7 km east and 6 km north of the source at 29 min before becoming diluted. During the April 5, 0700 CDT release, the blob moves 2.5 km east in 20 min before it is diluted. Hence, the extent of the spread of the infection will depend on the population density in the path of the transport.”
- “The cough/sneeze jet of an infected person is released into the atmosphere as a buoyant plume of virus-particles that mixes with the ambient turbulence, and it is transported by turbulence. Hence, as shown in the study, low turbulence and low winds favor the disease transmission as the virus-blob (or virus plume) survives for a few hours in the atmosphere before it is being diluted and losing its potency.”
- “The natural sunlight may not have the affinity to deactivate the virus.”
Another article, New Evidence Shows How COVID Can Spread Outdoors, states, “. . . the amount of time the virus could stay airborne drastically increased. In some cases, it stayed afloat for 30 minutes and could travel upwards of a mile.”
Additional scientific research from “Here’s How Far a Sneeze Can Actually Travel: RESPIRATORY DROPLETS FROM A SNEEZE OR A COUGH TRAVEL FARTHER AND LINGER LONGER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK” says:
- “The University of California San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering study, published June 30 in the journal Physics of Fluids, found that respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough traveled farther and lasted longer in climates that were cooler and more humid. In certain weather conditions, droplets could travel as far as eight to 13 feet away—even without wind. And because we know that person-to-person transmission through infected respiratory droplets is the most common cause of coronavirus infection, that’s bad news for anyone who thinks keeping six feet away from someone is enough.”
- “A May study in Physics of Fluids came to a similar conclusion that six feet were not enough when focused on the impact of wind on respiratory droplets. That study found that in breezier weather, droplets could travel up to 20 feet in five seconds.”
Bert Lumbreras needs to lead by example if the city council intends to implement any new local COVID-19 educational initiatives or enforcement measures.
City workers and contractors must abide by Executive Order #29 if our elected officials plan to engage in outreach with neighboring municipalities for more aggressive local policies.
“If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. ” — Marty McFly.
If fellow citizens refuse to wear a face mask and socially distance, pick up and put back items on the shelves without discretion, please bring the keys to the Delorean.