At a news conference with the Contra Costa County Department of Public Health on Friday, a Richmond doctor minced no words in condemning people who won't wear masks in public spaces, and in saying he was "embarrassed" by fellow doctors who had not stepped up to treat COVID patients.

Dr. Desmond Carson, a local physician and resident of Richmond, delivered his commentary — complete with liberal use of the word "bullshit" — as the county is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, with ICU beds currently at 47 percent capacity. As of Friday, Contra Costa County had 7,670 confirmed cases to date, with 119 deaths and 110 people currently hospitalized — including suspected cases, according to state data, it has 144 hospitalized patients, with 42 in ICU beds.

ABC 7 was on scene at the news conference, in which Dr. Carson said, "I bullshit you not, it is time to become serious about this COVID." And his frustration was more than apparent in referring to President Trump's use of federal troops to quell non-violent protests in Portland, saying, "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 added, "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 bullshit is going to kill us!"

Dr. Carson, 59, is well known in the East Bay medical community, both as a former ER doctor in Richmond — which was plagued by gun violence for decades — and as an advocate for under-funded hospitals in west Contra Costa County. The East Bay Times profiled him in 2013, when he was still working in the ER at Doctors Medical Center. And now he's representing LifeLong Medical Care, a nonprofit group that provides high-quality health, dental, and social services to underserved people in the community.

Implying that more medical attention has been needed in the western part of the county and that doctors from the tonier suburbs of Walnut Creek and LaMorInda perhaps haven't responded to calls for their help, Carson said he was "embarrassed and a little pissed off" at his colleagues, and added, "We took an oath... This white jacket means something."

Dr. Carson spoke also about the need for the community to work together to move COVID-positive people who do not need hospitalization into hotels in order to prevent infections from spreading in multi-generational households.

"If we don't work together... we're in trouble, man," he said.

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