Fred Hartman

Now that masks are mandatory in Fort Bend County businesses, we must comply with an official order if we want to visit any establishments. Otherwise, the business may be fined.

Some people are defiant, but I’ve been wearing a mask, anyway. I look at it as a chance to be courteous toward others and lower my odds of coming down with COVID-19, along with keeping my social distance and my hands clean.

It’s interesting that the federal government didn’t recommend wearing masks when lockdowns started in March.

We may have been intentionally misled because the USA didn’t have an abundance of masks at the time, and officials wanted to make sure that health care workers didn’t run out of personal protective equipment.

When it comes to face coverings, however, they’re not all equal. An N-95 mask is going to be superior to a regular bandana, for example.

Until recently, the World Health Organization wasn’t recommending masks. In much of Europe and Canada, masks aren’t being widely worn. Those places aren’t experiencing an outbreak of cases, either.

According to the Danish Health Authority, it “does not encourage healthy individuals who go about their daily business to wear mouth or facemasks as it is uncertain they have any effect on virus transmission.”

Health authorities in Sweden, Finland and Norway have issued similar statements.

By all means, wear your masks, but don’t think it will guarantee that you’ll be bulletproof to the virus.

WORTH FOLLOWING: I don’t like Twitter at all, but have been keeping up with novelist and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson’s COVID-19 coverage.

He used to cover health care issues at the Times, and has delved into all things related to the virus. He won’t give you the media narrative of fear and panic, either.

Berenson made the point that even though total cases are rising in Texas, Florida and Arizona, the death rate is lagging in those states compared to New York state. Perhaps that’s because more young people are becoming infected.

He wrote that there were 120 COVID-19 deaths in those three states on Thursday, but New York had about 800 deaths per day during its peak.

New York’s population is 20 million, while Texas Florida and Arizona have 60 million.

PATRIOTIC IRONY: I bought myself a Fourth of July present, a trucker’s hat with an American flag on the front.

It’s from ’47, the company which makes official hats for Major League Baseball and other sports teams. It wasn’t cheap, but fits perfectly.

But there’s one ironic problem. The tag inside the hat says “Made in Macau.” That’s not official mainland China, but it’s a special Chinese administrative state similar to Hong Kong. People don’t have many rights there when it comes to speaking out against the government, either.

This isn’t a new issue, but it’s still soul-crushing to realize so many things aren’t made in America anymore. Not even Stars and Stripes hats.

This is just one more reminder that we need to reignite our manufacturing base in the USA when it comes to hats, apparel, shoes and especially medications.

To borrow a popular phrase, an empowering and populist advocacy group could be started called American Manufacturing Matters.

We must hold our politicians’ feet to the fire to make that happen because it would benefit all of us.

Reach Fred Hartman at

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