Benicia Author Stephen Golub: Open Letter to Benicia City Council on Indoor Mask Mandate

Eight good reasons to enact the strongest policy possible

Benicia resident, Stephen Golub

Dear Mayor Young, Vice Mayor Campbell, and Council Members Strawbridge, Largaespada and Macenski:

I am writing to urge that:

  1. consistent with the eight other Bay Area counties, the City Council adopt a very strong indoor mask mandate for Benicia when it considers a resolution regarding this matter at its August 24, 2021 meeting;
  2. it take into account the overwhelming evidence in favor of masks, as exemplified by a compilation of 49 (mostly) peer reviewed studies (a few of which in turn reviewed hundreds of other studies) documenting the effectiveness of masks against Covid-19;
  3. the Council consider the guidance from many authorities regarding this matter – not least that of the CDC, which “advise[s] that all individuals — including vaccinated ones — wear masks indoors in areas with ‘high’ and ‘substantial’ COVID-19 transmission,” since Solano and the other Bay Area counties fall into those two categories;
  4. conversely, the Council view with appropriate skepticism testimony from Solano County Health Officer Bela T. Matyas, should he weigh in against the mandate, given that
    1. for much of the pandemic, his office has apparently ignored or discounted the expertise of the eight other Bay Area counties’ health departments as well as the CDC and many other experts regarding Covid-19 policies and
    2. that Solano’s Covid case and hospitalization rates are substantially higher than those of the other eight counties;
  5. the Council similarly view skeptically Dr. Matyas’ claim that “the transmission that is occurring, that is causing this surge, is all in people’s homes, backyards, parties, camping, and is not in the environment where these masking recommendations are going to apply,” given
    1. the sweeping nature of that claim (all transmission occurs in private settings, including outdoor ones, rather than indoor public settings?),
    2. the rapidly evolving reality imposed by the highly infectious Delta variant, which greatly increases risks, uncertainty and cause for caution,
    3. the threat of “long Covid” (for which symptoms can persist for many months or perhaps permanently, even for individuals with mild or asymptomatic cases),
    4. Solano’s being consistently out of step with other Bay Area counties, the CDC and many experts, and
    5. Solano’s (perhaps resultantly) poor case and hospitalization track record relative to those other counties;
  6. it consider the strong possibility that the failure to adopt a mask mandate could undercut Benicia businesses, tourism and even property values, as many individuals and families who might consider shopping or moving here could look askance at a city that rejects a policy adopted throughout the Bay Area, in many other California and U.S. cities, and even in such parts of the country as Louisiana;
  7. the Council appreciate that an indoor mask mandate will make life easier and safer for the many Benicians staffing or considering returning to work in our stores and restaurants, including the young woman who thanked me for wearing a mask in her shop despite the sign outside saying that vaccinated persons (such as myself) need not do so; and
  8. the Council decides in favor of protecting all of us, particularly but not only the immunocompromised and children too young to be vaccinated.

I am not a health professional. But as a concerned Benician, it seems clear that the indoor mask mandate will help save Benicians’ health and conceivably even their lives.

So, please adopt the strongest policy possible. If you reject the mandate, your legacy could well be, “They voted for Covid.”

Stephen Golub

Stephen Golub, Benicia – A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

Benicia resident Stephen Golub offers excellent perspective on his blog, A Promised Land:  Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

To access his other posts or subscribe, please go to his blog site, A Promised Land.