'Embarrassed and a little pissed off': Richmond doctor tells off coronavirus deniers in passionate speech

ByAlix Martichoux via KGO logo
Friday, July 31, 2020
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A Bay Area doctor gave an impassioned speech Friday in Contra Costa County, imploring people to follow COVID-19 guidelines and curb the spread of the virus. Watch the full video here.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- As the coronavirus crisis worsens in Contra Costa County, and ICU beds are already at 47% capacity, a Richmond doctor shared his frustration.

"I bulls**t you not, it is time to become serious about this COVID," said Dr. Desmond Carson, a physician and resident of Richmond, as he implored people to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands in his prepared remarks during a Friday press conference.

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But it was during the question and answer session, when Carson was called back to the podium, that his frustration with the community and its treatment of COVID-19 boiled over.

"We had the national guard come out to stem nonviolent protesters who killed no one. We need the national guard to come out to tell these fools who don't want to wear masks, you're going to wear the mask or you're going to go home," he said.

"A grocery clerk should not have to fight a grown man to wear a mask. That's not their job. ... Our rights are going to kill us. Our rights to not wear a mask, that bulls--t is going to kill us."

VIDEO: Watch Dr. Carson's impassioned speech below

Carson also expressed his disappointment in the government's response to the pandemic, with no national shutdown. "We've had 134,000 people die in this country, but there was no response to try to stem that. ... South Korea had one, two, three, four cases. They shut the whole damn country down. Shut it down! We're out here playing."

The doctor added he was "embarrassed" by some of his colleagues in the medical field who haven't responded to the county's urgent need to treat patients.

"We took an oath. I'm embarrassed and a little pissed off to say they would not come. This white jacket means something."

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"When flu season comes, how am I going differentiate flu from corona? How am I going to do that?" he asked. "If we don't get serious, ashes, ashes, we all fall down."

Contra Costa County has been on the state's watch list since July 5. As a result, it has paused and rolled back some of its reopening.

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On Mount Diablo Blvd in Lafayatte Friday evening, mask wearing compliance was good, but far from perfect.

Still, some Contra Costa County residents weren't so sure about Dr. Carson's messaging.

"I know I need to wear a mask and I try to educate people, but I don't think it's ramming it down people's throats, it's just giving them that information," said Moraga resident, Melissa Davis, who added, "we don't need the national guard coming in, we need people being positive and saying we can get past this."

"I would encourage people to use the mask," said Dr. Jake McDowell, who lives in Lafayatte, but works at a hospital in Stockton, where he treats sick and dying COVID-19 patients every day.

But, when asked about bringing in the National Guard to enforce masks, said, "I wouldn't be that extreme about it."

Another idea that came out of the press conference was a youth ambassador program for 15-25 year olds in Contra Costa County.

"Young people receive a stipend to be trained by the health department to provide messages to their peers," said Contra Costa County Supervisor, John Gioia.

VIDEO: Richmond doctor tells off coronavirus deniers in passionate speech

Ambassadors will receive $525 to post on social media about best COVID practices, like mask wearing and social distancing.

"I wouldn't. I wouldn't even waste my time," said a 15-year-old Pittsburg resident, who is not so sure the strategy will stick.

"A lot of youngsters like me, a lot of them don't watch the news and don't look at our cases how it's like inclining. A lot of people just kind of forgot about it."

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