David Harris, Jr. is apparently popular in certain circles as a black man who supports President Trump, though I hadn’t heard of him until he made a ruckus on an American Airlines flight – refusing to wear a mask, and advising his followers that only N95 masks are prophylactic, which isn’t supported by the balance of evidence at this point.
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— David J Harris Jr (@DavidJHarrisJr) July 26, 2020
Apparently Mr. Harris held up a flight departure on Saturday when he boarded without a mask on, and passengers complained. He reports that he “declared [to] have a medical reason to not wear a mask” and the captain addressed passengers letting them know someone wasn’t wearing a mask and offering everyone the opportunity to deplane. Reportedly no one did.
Harris offered this inaccurate legal take,
They cannot violate your HIPAA rights at American and ask you anything about your medical issue, so for all the people on the plane who might want to get off, cause they might not feel say, then get the heck off!
The man videotaped the incident he caused, though notably he edited out the part where he had a discussion with the flight’s captain.
View this post on Instagram
If you have a medical reason, you do not have to comply. There are lots of conditions on the list. Know your rights! Know the truth! And please know, unless you’re wearing an N95 mask, any cloth covering or ear loop will not stop you from getting it! #know #the #truth #stand #up #for #your #rights
The airline’s new mask policy, which they say won’t allow anyone who refuses to wear a mask to fly (even if they have a disability that makes it inadvisable to do so) does not go into effect until Wednesday, July 29.
And despite claiming to have a medical condition that prevents him from wearing a mask, he has appeared on Instagram wearing one (albeit improperly). Hopefully this is enough evidence for American to ban the man from its flights, although it generally takes multiple violations before they’ll actually do so.
Credit: David Harris, Jr. via Mediaite
My take is that whether he has a medical issue or not, he appears to be giving a wink and nod to the medical claim – he’s asking people not to believe him. In telling people ‘not to lie’ about their medical condition, he’s insinuating that if they lie they can get out of the requirement – the past photo of him wearing a mask notwithstanding. And he takes a little too much joy in the confrontation.
While the efficacy of different kinds of masks varies tremendously, and it’s appalling that this many months into the pandemic quality respirator masks still aren’t available to the general public (let alone in sufficient quantity for health care workers), access is certainly improving. Regardless, even disposable ear loop masks seem to have some effect reducing the distance that respiratory droplets travel and combined with HEPA air filtration on all but small regional jets and turboprops combine to improve the safety of aircraft for everyone.
Ultimately face masks should be the conservative alternative to shut down orders, where a heavy hand of government tells people they have to stay home. Masks are far less intrusive. If everyone wears them more businesses can stay open, people can engage in more activities. So it seems an odd focal point for so-called conservative activism.