Members in Orange County advocate for mask policy

June 24th, 2020

As COVID-19 cases started to rise in Orange County, NUHW members began calling county supervisors asking that they reinstate an order requiring people to wear masks in public spaces.

The order was rescinded after anti-mask zealots threatened the safety of the county’s public health officer, Nichole Quick, ultimately leading to her resignation. Many of those same zealots interrupted a rally by labor organizations and community groups demanding that the Board of Supervisors restore the mask policy.

Connie Montesano, a lab technician and NUHW member at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, was among the speakers who were derided as “communists” from hecklers, who called COVID-19 “a hoax.”

Video of the Montesano, speaking above the shouts of the anti-mask demonstrators was aired on local television in Los Angeles and has been viewed more than 43,000 times on Facebook.

One day after the confrontation in Orange County, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order requiring everyone to wear masks in public across the state. In response to Newsom’s order, NUHW issued the following statement:

Healthcare workers know the value of wearing a mask, as do many conscientious Californians, and it’s time that the rest of us do as well. Gov. Newsom’s mask order is exactly what we need to make everyone start taking the pandemic seriously again and stop putting others at risk.

After three months of fighting COVID-19 and fighting for face coverings that will help keep them safe, caregivers are demoralized to see so many people in their communities walking along crowded streets with no masks. The pandemic is far from over, and healthcare workers who put themselves and their families at risk to flatten the curve are once again seeing increases in COVID-19 patients as social distancing rules are relaxed and zealots intimidate public health officials, who have called for common sense mask guidelines to keep the virus in check.

Earlier this week, an NUHW caregiver participating in a news conference was shouted down by dozens of anti-mask hecklers who called COVID-19 “a hoax” and called her “a communist” for asking Orange County supervisors to reinstate the county’s mask mandate.

The science is now clear that having everyone wear a mask significantly reduces people’s risk of contracting COVID-19. Now, California has guidelines that are equally clear. We applaud Gov. Newsom for standing up to anti-science, anti-mask bullies and refusing to let Californians become complacent about the coronavirus.

To protect the health of all essential workers and California’s millions of vulnerable residents, it’s incumbent on us to follow the new rules and for the governor to adequately enforce them.