On Sunday, Eric Garcetti was on hand to see the Los Angeles Rams punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. As were plenty of the city’s luminaries – including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who posted pictures on social media.
In one, Johnson is standing with Garcetti, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles and President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the ambassador to India, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. None of them are wearing masks. (In another picture, Johnson poses with California Gov. Gavin Newsom; neither man is wearing a mask.)
That was a break with a Los Angeles public health order governing large events – like an NFL game – that states masks are supposed to be worn at all times, except when eating or drinking.
Which, well, not great. Rules for thee and not for me.
But it’s also not the biggest deal in the world (minus, you know, completely undermining the kinds of demands they’ve made of ordinary people for the better part of two years). Except that, when asked about the pictures, Garcetti defended himself in the most ridiculous way possible.
“I wore my mask the entire game. When people ask for a photograph, I hold my breath and I put it here and people can see that,” Garcetti said at a press conference on Wednesday, holding a mask in his hand. “There is a zero percent chance of infection from that.”
Holding your breath? Really? I mean, come on man.
That explanation is totally unbelievable. Plus, if Covid-19 is primarily passed through your nose, then holding your breath probably doesn’t do much good anyway.
What should Garcetti have said? Well, what Newsom said when confronted about the maskless picture. “I was trying to be gracious, took the mask off for a brief second,” said Newsom. “But no, I encourage people to continue to wear them.”
Not perfect, but totally fine, right? It’s something lots and lots of people can identify with. And a heck of a lot more believable than “I hold my breath.”
Garcetti’s flub is the latest in a string of Covid-related missteps by prominent California Democrats.
Newsom drew massive amounts of negative attention – in California and nationally – when he was photographed eating at a ritzy northern California restaurant maskless – even while asking the citizens of his state to wear masks to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Last September, Breed, the San Francisco mayor, drew criticism for appearing maskless at an indoor concert. She criticized the “fun police” for condemning her.
Garcetti, with his “holding my breath” comments, now joins this ignominious club.