Happy Thanksgiving, Here's Your Mask: CA County Issues Infuriating Rule Days Before Holiday


One Thanksgiving tradition involves a designated person carving the turkey. In Santa Cruz County, California, perhaps families can start a new tradition: designating someone to pass out masks by the door.

Santa Cruz County officials have implemented an indoor mask mandate, starting Sunday, that includes private homes, according to the San Jose Mercury News. If members of another family are present, you have to mask up.

“Unfortunately, a potential winter surge appears to be a significant threat to the health and safety of our community,” Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said in a statement.

The Mercury News’ Melissa Hartman reported county officials are “not expecting residents to wear masks during indoor activities in which it is logistically difficult, such as eating, drinking, swimming, showering in a fitness facility or when obtaining medical or cosmetic services.”

While eating is largely what Thanksgiving is all about, however, this means that when you’re not eating, the county’s nannies assumedly want you to don a facial covering.

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“If you are gathering with extended family and friends, especially those who have traveled from outside the area or who are unvaccinated, caution is best,” Newel said.

“We want to try to get used to the idea of living with this virus and getting back to some sort of normalcy in activities, including being able to gather with people that we love and not have to withhold ourselves from our kids, our grandkids or our grandparents,” she said.

Newel also advised that those not comfortable with wearing a mask could meet outside. Because this is all about “getting back to some sort of normalcy.” Right.

What is the expiration date for the mandate? None whatsoever, although the county says it will be watching the case rate, test positivity rate and viral reproductive number, determined by averaging how many additional people someone infected with COVID goes on to infect.

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In other words, this could very well be in place for Christmas, too.

“Those are the three main things to watch but our big concern is also saving lives so we will be watching deaths and, additionally, the impacts on our health care system,” Newel said.

“There has been quite an increase in hospitalizations in the last week to two weeks.”

One would think this might be a sign that COVID paternalism isn’t working; California as a whole is one of the most stringent states in terms of coronavirus policy, and Santa Cruz County, in the Bay Area, had over 68 percent of its residents fully vaccinated as of Nov. 22 with 74 percent having received at least one dose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Furthermore, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that cases in the Bay Area are currently lower than they were during the summer. However, officials feared a holiday spike, hence the mandate.

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At least this is better than the rules in California last year, when the state Department of Public Health mandated that almost all gatherings with different households be held outdoors, last no more than two hours and have no more than three households involved.

Those guidelines, it’s worth noting, were announced at roughly the same time that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom was infamously caught attending a maskless birthday party at a swanky, Michelin-starred Napa Valley restaurant called the French Laundry.

This year, it’s worth noting that Santa Cruz County’s announcement came less than two weeks after the governor extended California’s COVID emergency until March 2022. He then jetted off to Mexico for Thanksgiving — where one imagines he won’t be masking up indoors when he’s around other families in solidarity with the people of Santa Cruz County. You keep being you, Gavin Newsom.

But then, he’s hardly alone. Remember London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, who was caught maskless at an indoor at an event in September — violating her own mask mandate?

“My drink was sitting at the table. I got up and started dancing because I was feeling the spirit and I wasn’t thinking about a mask,” she said at the time. “I was thinking about having a good time and in the process I was following the health orders.”

And then there was Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, who officiated at the wedding of oil heiress Ivy Getty last month. Notice something?

For Californians who aren’t elected officials, however, the message is obeisance. Take the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, which urged all of its readers to follow similar protocols for Thanksgiving even if if it’s not law.

“The pandemic will end some day; they all do. But it will not happen this week. This year, health officials aren’t telling people to hunker down at home,” the Monday editorial read.

“But they are asking that we continue to be careful, to wear masks around others and to test before visiting with vulnerable friends and family. It seems the least we can do to avoid another terrible winter.”

Heck, maybe all of plebeian California could adopt this new Thanksgiving tradition. Someone carves the turkey, someone else passes out the masks.

It seems the least we can do and the pandemic will end some day. Just don’t ask when.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture