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-by Bill Watkins 10/20/2021

It’s tempting to bully others, when you feel threatened.  Many people feel afraid someone is going to breathe on them and give them Covid-19, kill them…  It’s the type of fear civilization foments, folks living on top of each other in mass buildings, concrete, asphalt and earth-burning rapid transportation.

Here in New Europe we suffer years of Western medical doctors with their convincing claims of disease and solutions, fancy degrees on the wall full of themselves and knowledge.  Enough to overcome early blunders as bloodletters?  Can we trust them or pharmaceutical companies pitching tomorrow’s cures, warding off addiction—justifying all by record sales?

Governments do.  Governments kicked out “God” years ago, anything Science can’t explain, anything too controversial like religion…  But wait, isn’t religion a part of many people’s conception of Health?  Health is extremely personal.  Why is government in mine?  Do they live with me? Do they know my medical history? 

“Masks are for your health and those around you!”

But I have a diaphragm injury, can’t breathe through them.  How’s that good for my health?  You hear me, Public Transportation?

Amtrak, are you listening?  Did you read the CDC mask guidelines?  There’s a big section mandating masks to be worn on all federal transportation, but guess what?  As there should be, there is also a pretty large section of EXEMPTIONS.   You won’t hear about those, if you are a passenger on their trains.  The conductors won’t listen to your CDC-granted exemption to wearing a mask because some individual or individuals at Amtrak have decided to push their own “policies” outside of the CDC asks.

The CDC rightly excuses someone from wearing a mask, “when experiencing difficulty breathing or shortness of breath or feeling winded” until able to “resume normal breathing through the mask.”  To me “normal breathing” never includes doing so through a mask, but at least the CDC comes out against suffocation on board public transportation services.

Amtrak is all over the place about mask policy, when they should just stick to CDC’s shtick.  I contacted them on Twitter, Customer Relations by phone,  then a supervisor, and finally a guy emailed me.  I was seeking their “policy” in black and white.  Of course they don’t have an officially published policy that goes against the CDC’s logical exemptions.  In this atmosphere of fear they bark about stuff like being “committed to the American Disabilities Act,” then a system of requiring that passengers with aversions to masks apply 72 hours in advance of travel for an exemption you may not get.

Adam Bland of Customer Relations at Amtrak said in his email to me that “Per federal law and Amtrak policy, all customers in stations and on board trains and thruway buses are required to wear a face mask or covering that fully covers the entire mouth and nose, fits snugly against the side of the face, and secures under the chin at all times.”

“Unless they can’t breathe” or any other logical reason to not wear a mask was left out of Amtrak’s supposed policy, seemingly made up to be verbally administered case by case and not on any website.  Why would it be, if it goes against the CDC?  And so… because Amtrak fails to mention all the reasons the CDC says it’s okay not to wear a mask indoors, I’ll print them here:

While in indoor areas of conveyances or while indoors at transportation hubs, people are not required to wear a mask under the following circumstances:

  • while eating, drinking, or taking medication for brief periods of time;
  • while communicating for brief periods of time with a person who is hearing impaired when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
  • if, on an aircraft, wearing oxygen masks is needed because of loss of cabin pressure or other event affecting aircraft ventilation;
  • if unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance;
  • when necessary to temporarily lower or remove the mask to verify one’s identity such as during Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening or when asked to do so by the ticket or gate agent or any law enforcement official;
  • when experiencing difficulty breathing or shortness of breath or feeling winded, until able to resume normal breathing with the mask; when vomiting until vomiting ceases; or if wearing a mask interferes with necessary medical care such as supplemental oxygen administered via an oxygen mask.

The following categories of people continue to be exempt from the requirement to wear a mask:

  • A child under the age of 2 years;
  • A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.);
  • A person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations.

People on board the following categories of conveyances continue to be exempt from the requirement to wear a mask:

  • Private conveyances operated only for personal, non-commercial use;
  • Commercial motor vehicles or trucks, if the driver is the only person in the vehicle or truck, or the vehicle or truck is operated by a team who all live in the same household and are the only persons in the vehicle;*
  • Conveyances operated or chartered by the U.S. military as long as the operator of the conveyance follows all requirements of U.S. military services to prevent spread of COVID-19 that are equivalent to the requirements in CDC’s Order.

*Non-passenger-carrying commercial vessels operated by a team of mariners who all live on the vessel and are the only people on the vessel are also permitted to use this exemption.