San Jose Delays Vote on Stricter Face Mask Requirements

When Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and Councilman Sergio Jimenez proposed a law that would require face masks in public in San Jose, Santa Clara County health officials were only urging residents to cover up to slow the spread of coronavirus.

That all changed Monday when the county health department issued new guidance that made masks mandatory in businesses starting later this week. Despite the revised ruling, the San Jose council voted unanimously at Tuesday night’s virtual meeting to consider a stricter law that would require face coverings anytime someone’s out and about.

The council was originally slated to approve the proposal outright on Tuesday, however, City Attorney Rick Doyle said he’d need time to review gaps between Jones and Jimenez’s proposal and the county order. The issue is tentatively set to return for a vote on June 2.

Though that decision is still a couple weeks away, a number of residents expressed their concerns about enforcement, the effectiveness of masks and their constitutional rights.

“What we’re proposing is not radical,” Jones argued in the videoconference meeting. “It’s not infringing on people’s constitutional rights because there’s an old saying that your rights and privileges end where my rights and privileges begin. And if we don’t have these types of safety measures as we open up the economy, then we’re going to have a spike in cases. We’re going to have more deaths.”

Studies have shown that wearing a mask—which can include a covering as simple as a bandana—can help lessen the number of aerosol droplets a person expels into the air when they breathes or cough.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially said face coverings aren’t all that useful. Health officials changed course in early April after finding evidence that the coronavirus could be spread by asymptomatic individuals.

On Tuesday, Mayor Sam Liccardo noted that wearing a mask is, “clearly the best practice throughout the world in dealing with this virus and other viruses where we have outbreaks and epidemics.” “No, they do not serve primarily to protect the mask wearer, they serve to protect everyone else and that is a critical important public health objective right now and it’s far less intrusive than a lot of other things we’d have to do if we end up getting a spike in cases,” he added.

Councilman Johnny Khamis, who displayed his own Star Trek mask on the Zoom call, expressed some concerns about the restrictiveness of the order. “I’m okay with it if it’s in parks and other things like that, but if I’m walking my dog just down the block, I don’t want a police officer to come up and point their finger at me,” he said.

Jones clarified that the proposal has a number of exemptions for people who are exercising, under the age of 6 or have been advised by a doctor not to wear a mask.

Councilwoman Pam Foley said she was grappling with the “enforceability” of the law.

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia told the council that his department has struggled with enforcement since day one of the shelter-in-place order—especially when criminals are being released from jail without bail.

“Often times what’s lost in these decisions as they’re made is what the cost of doing enforcement of these orders,” he said. “It’s akin to the expectations that some have had with us breaking up crowds due to the social distancing order. We’ve said that we weren’t going to do it but I guarantee people assumed that we would.”

While SJPD could issue warnings, which has been done in San Mateo County, Garcia said enforcing the law could come at a cost if an officer has to chase or use force on someone. “When COVID-19 is gone, we’re going to be left to deal with the credibility of this police department on how we enforce these laws and regulation,” he added.

Jimenez said he realizes that police have bigger issues to deal with, and that he doesn’t expect them to fully enforcement the policy. “I’d like to think that the majority of residents are really thinking about not me, but we, and really taking a very community-broad approach and thinking about the health of our community” he said.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to ghase[email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

17 Comments

  1. > Studies have shown that wearing a mask—which can include a covering as simple as a bandana—can help lessen the number of aerosol droplets a person expels into the air when they breathes or cough.

    We are told by the healthcare scolds (Chuck Schumer) that using hydroxychloroquinone is stupid and dangerous and a bad example because there are no “credible studies” that prove that it is “safe and effective”.

    A “credible study” is a “controlled double blind study” required by the FDA to approve a drug for marketing.

    So, are the “studies” that show that wearing a mask “can help lessen the number of aerosol droplets a person expels into the air” PROOF that masks help end the pandemic?

    Has there been a “controlled double blind study” that shows that masks do anything MORE than what “social distancing” does? Or are mask just virtue signalling that pretends to solve a problem already solved by “social distancing”?

    We have been told over and over that the authorities are going to be guided by “science” and “data driven” to solve the virus crisis.

    Great. Where is “the science”, i.e., the “controlled double blind study” the PROVES that masks are necessary and serve any purpose “anytime someone’s out and about”?

    Shelter in place is crushing the economy and crushing peoples’ lives. We need MORE than opinions and speculations by “experts”..

    Where is the DATA?

    • People wear various types of masks, many aren’t medical grade, stitched at home or bought online. Where are studies that wearing those is safe for prolonged periods of time? Masks with a valve are as useless for protecting the others as no mask at all.

      If the government wants people to wear masks at all times, it has to provide the population with proper medical grade masks. Otherwise, it will be treating people as lab rats, again.

      • Great point! When authorities dictate penalties, they better adequately define criteria – and Cody’s Flu Klux Klan mob hasn’t. Doesn’t reflect well on County Counsel James Williams’ job performance.

        Maybe SJ’s attorney Rick Doyle will address adequate definitions for the June 2 reconsideration – and when it will be (if ever) rescinded.

        Cody’s latest directive becomes effective 5/22 and references (page 2, #4) references Health Officer’s [sic] April 17, 2020 Critical Guidance on Facial Coverings (the “Face Covering Guidance”. Good luck trying to find it on SCC’s website. Yet another example of SCC’s bungling.

        A Google search shows Sonoma County’s https://socoemergency.org/order-of-the-health-officer-facial-coverings/ but dated 4/13. Same or different than SCC’s referenced 4/17 Guidance? Is “guidance” legally enforceable? Any fabric or paper that covers the mouth or nose is specified.

        Pantyhose or fishnet stockings? A halloween mask with a liner? Lots of amusing (and evidently legal) opportunities. And the list of blurry exemptions effectively negates compliance and enforcement.

        No face covering? I’m homeless or I have a medical exemption or I need assistance or … None of which are defined.

        SJPD (and every other law enforcement agency) is put in an untenable position when tasked to enforce something this vague.

    • I have been complaining about data issues since almost day 1. I kept asking for an estimate of the percentage of the population that was infected with the Virus which is a key component to the SIRES deterministic model.

      The data quality was so bad that Santa Clara County didn’t keep a record of the number of people that tested negative. They only kept a record of positives.

      Wow

      That really helps.

      You didn’t know if the percentage of people infected was 10%, 1% or 0.1%

      Stanford a week ago saying that the number of people infected in Santa Clara county was 50 times previously thought.

  2. Here we go again with Jones conflating “cases” with fatalities to support an otherwise idiotic position.

    Inconvenient facts:
    * As with any communicable disease the most vulnerable die first. Most (90%) deaths and hospitalizations occur among those with underlying health issues like emphysema from smoking, severe obesity, etc. Some because they drew the short straw in the genetic lottery. Some because the Use By date begins to expire. About 40% of SCC’s COVID deaths occurred in extended care facilities.

    Deaths have stabilized because COVID’s victim pool is shrinking – not because of SIP, prophylactic measures, contact tracing, or herd immunity.

    * “Cases” [using CDC’s definition] includes deaths, hospitalizations, and anyone that tests positive or is presumed to have COVID at their time of death. More testing results in more cases, but stupidly expensive. Statistical sampling can provide as much insight at a fraction of the cost.

    * Experts disagree about the merits of masks. Dr. Fauci said they were unwarranted in his 60 Minutes interview and can actually do more harm than good when worn by the general public.

    * The vast majority of those that develop symptoms don’t require hospitalization. Particularly those under 60 – like most of our jail & prison population. Emptying jails and failing to incarcerate offenders has resulted in a much more serious public safety impact as Garcia mentions.

    But there’s another reason not cited: Fear leading to social disintegration. Helping others? Nope – not if it means I might get exposed to your presumed death cooties. Masks are a vivid reminder and reinforce the fear factor.

    Pure speculation, but masks seems to lower overall compassion for others. Masks prevent us from reading non-verbal cues. Charity funding and volunteers decline as a result plus other fallout too.

    Garcia and SJPD have worked hard to build and maintain community trust. That will disappear in a New York minute when they breakup social gatherings or issue citations as seen elsewhere.

  3. > “I’d like to think that the majority of residents are really thinking about not me, but we, and really taking a very community-broad approach and thinking about the health of our community” he said.

    This could very well be true.

    And if it IS true, it is very likely GOOD ENOUGH!

    Control of the virus and “flattening the curve” takes place EVEN WHEN LESS THAN 100 PERCENT of people are wearing masks.

    Perfect is the enemy of good enough.

    The virus will be controlled if a hundred percent of people wear masks.

    The virus will be controlled EVEN IF LESS than a hundred percent wear masks.

    What’s the point?

  4. What is it about minority lawmakers that make them want to control every aspect of our lives? We are not a Banana republic.

  5. On a more serious note, this op-ed ran in today’s Wall Street Journal. A few excerpts:

    “. . . community perceptions of the legitimacy of the restrictions . . . may determine the extent of compliance and ultimately the success of the lockdown program. That’s a lesson the country should have learned from Prohibition.”

    “Public noncompliance sent important signals that Prohibition ought not be taken too seriously. Many came to see drinking more as a regulatory violation than a crime. As noncompliance begot [sic] noncompliance, the entire regime collapsed on itself and the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933.”

    “Similarly, today’s policy makers should be concerned about open public resistance to lockdown rules.”

    “. . . it’s critical to assess what measures can gain public support, so that people can reasonably expect others to comply and will continue to see noncompliance as wrong.”

    “Even if the government officials believe they have sound technical reasons for their restrictions, their program may fail unless they convince the general public of this.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/speakeasies-and-social-distancing-11589908421

  6. Just thirteen new cases in Santa Clara County today, among 2,000,000 residents. Examples from other states that are further along in re-opening that no spike resulted returning their freedom to people. Yet California keeps adding MORE restrictions. The seemingly never ending race to see which lockdown politician can be the most idiotic continues.

  7. People wear various types of masks, many aren’t medical grade, stitched at home or bought online. Where are studies that wearing those is safe for prolonged periods of time? Masks with a valve are as useless for protecting the others as no mask at all.

    If the government wants people to wear masks at all times, it has to provide the population with proper medical grade masks. Otherwise, it will be treating people as lab rats, again.

  8. “A couple weeks” should have been “a couple of weeks”.

    That’s the hill I’m going to fight and die on, at least for written expression.

    There’s the less important issue of masks, but anyone looking at how East Asia has done with covid can clearly see they’re a very good idea, so no value in disputing that issue.

    • Correlation is Not causation, so there is still plenty of value in disputing the issue. In fact, if you’re not researching opposing points of views to test your beliefs then your “doin it wrong”.

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