18-year-old Violet Affleck delivers powerful speech against mask bans in L.A.

Violet Affleck is passionate about public health, recently taking to an L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting to express the importance of safety precautions in government and medical facilities. The 18-year-old took the stand as part of the public comment portion of the meeting, noting that mask bans “do not keep us safer, they make vulnerable members of our community less safe.”

In her speech, which was shared on X (formerly known as Twitter), she introduced herself as “Violet Affleck, Los Angeles resident, first-time voter and 18.”

“I contracted a post-viral condition in 2019,” she shared. “I’m OK now, but I saw first-hand that medicine does not always have answers to the consequences of even minor viruses. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown that into sharper relief.”

“One in 10 infections leads to long COVID, which is a devastating neurological [and] cardiovascular illness that can take away people’s ability to work, move, see, and even think,” she continued. “It stands to exacerbate our homelessness crisis, as well as the suffering of many people in our city. It hits communities of color, disabled people, elderly people, trans people, women, and anyone in a public facing essential job the hardest.”

“To confront the long COVID crisis, I demand mask availability, air filtration and far-UVC light in government facilities, including jails and detention centers, and mask mandates in county medical facilities,” she said. “We must expand the availability of high-quality free tests and treatment and, most importantly, the county must oppose mask bans for any reason,” she added. 

“They do not keep us safer, they make vulnerable members of our community less safe and make everyone less able to participate in Los Angeles together. Thank you.”

Affleck’s speech seemingly comes in response to the recent wave of proposed mask bans or restrictions that have been floated by public officials, including Los Angeles mayor Karen Bass and New York governor Kathy Hochul and mayor Eric Adams, among others. The proposals come amid a summer surge in COVID cases, with Bass herself recently testing positive for the virus. Officials have argued that masks worn at recent protests against Israel’s ongoing siege against Gaza facilitate anonymous acts of antisemitism, but mask-wearing during peaceful protest is protected under the First Amendment.

The threat of long COVID is still very real, with varying symptoms that can range from mild to severe and can last from weeks to years after initial infection. Affleck, whose parents are Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, joins fellow long COVID advocacy groups, who believe that mask bans are a threat to both public health and public safety, especially among the most vulnerable and marginalized communities. Props to her for using her privilege and platform to support protective measures in her own backyard. 

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