Phil Carville: Masks aren’t a heavy weight |

Phil Carville: Masks aren’t a heavy weight

Phil Carville

Our national COVID crisis began in January/February.

By April, 23 million people were unemployed; incomes vanished; homes lost; businesses shuttered; renters evicted; domestic violence soared; homicides increased; children hungry; and families destroyed.

Today the United States has 285,000 deaths. What a waste!

The First Mistake

The federal government made a huge mistake when it dismissed the seriousness of the disease, did not invoke the Defense Production Act to manufacture masks and other protective equipment … and then did not support wearing masks as a “sense of national duty” and a “patriotic act.”

The result is millions of lives shattered, businesses vanished, and jobs lost. And federal and state governments now are making a second mistake.

The Second Mistake

Instead of a mask mandate, governments are still closing businesses, forcing greater hardship upon a segment of society which can least bear it. A more effective strategy is to convince everyone that wearing masks is a selfless and patriotic act of service.

Yet there is no national mandate/support for wearing masks. A recent study by The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected that if 95% of everyone in the country wore a mask, 130,000 lives would be saved between now and February.

Many politicians still stupidly and vainly prance around meetings and rallies without wearing masks. This is an affront to common decency and a violation of trust to the American public.

Ordinary Citizens

Citizens should be allowed to work. If businesses are open, then people can work, kids are schooled, rent is paid, food is on the table. That happens if everyone wears a mask. The economy need not shut down.

Many decisions are unfair. Why is Home Depot 100% open with no occupancy restrictions, but our local restaurants are mandated to close or operate at 10% capacity? Our Sierra Cinemas could safely operate with 100% mask wearing and social distancing. This goes for almost any business with mask and social distancing mandates. Simple, no mask… no entry.

Personal Fitness

At the South Yuba Club all staff and members must always wear a mask. This is easy to enforce, we explain the policy, and everyone willingly complies. Why? Because it is commonsense, respectful of others, and a practical safety precaution.

You can see a strapping young man lifting weights with a mask, a fit young woman on a treadmill with a mask, a 60-year old man or woman rowing, stretching or otherwise active with a mask.

My personal favorite is a lovely, elderly woman who is 90-plus years old with a cane who this week signed up for personal training. Why? Because she knows that her overall health is a balance of exercise, mental outlook, and a zest for living. Yes, she wears a mask. Yes, she is respectful of COVID, but she knows her health depends upon staying fit and independent.

Political Polarization

Surveys show that only 50% of the public believe in wearing masks to curtail COVID infection. This mindset must be changed. Political leaders, both locally and nationally, must step up and officially support mask wearing by everyone.

If everyone proudly wore masks as a sign of respect for others, we could continue to successfully fight this pandemic and keep our citizens employed, business operating and our economy healthy.

It’s about Love

One of my favorite songs is “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. Russell was dying from cancer and his lyrics for this song would be the last ones of his life. One story about the origin of the title is that a priest observed an older boy carrying a younger boy on his back. When asked, the older boy responded “He ain’t heavy, mister, he’s my brother”.

We are in a pandemic crisis, but isn’t the larger story about love? Honoring your brothers and sisters? The last time I checked… masks are not that heavy!

Wouldn’t it be worth carrying one… for your brother?

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to respond to questions or comments. He can be reached at

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