Share it with the mask-less. Hand it to the stubborn, the uninformed and those who think they’re invincible. Give it to the liberty fetishists who believe the world revolves around a right to keep their mugs exposed.
Read this, and know you’re not alone in your frustration:
I live in a state that has taken coronavirus seriously and in a metropolitan area that implemented serious and smart restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. But as those restrictions have slowly lifted, what I see is confounding.
I drove past a baseball field this weekend and there was a little league game starting. None of the kids were wearing masks. They were huddled around each other making no effort to distance. None of the coaches were wearing masks or distancing. None of the parents either.
In parks and front yards in the city and suburbs, I see kids congregating, the vast majority not wearing masks or social distancing. There are adults going into shops, bars and restaurants with masks covering only their mouths, not their noses. Or no masks at all.
What do people not understand about our current situation? It’s very simple: Whether you’re an adult or a kid, healthy or high-risk, if you can’t socially distance, you wear a damn mask, and ideally you do both.
There were questions about whether masks were necessary or effective in the early stages of the pandemic, but as knowledge of the virus has grown, the importance of masks has become clear.
A new model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicts that if 95% of people wear masks, it could save more than 45,000 American lives between now and Dec. 1.
If you feel your right to not wear a mask outweighs other people’s right to stay healthy, maybe money will move you. Countries with widespread mask mandates have avoided additional lockdowns and kept their economies going. A recent report by Goldman Sachs determined that “a national face mask mandate could potentially substitute for renewed lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP.”
Coronavirus cases in stubbornly mask-averse Southern and Southwestern states are surging now, and the numbers in Illinois have started trending up as restrictions have relaxed. Again, it’s simple: If we don’t wear masks, we’ll be locked down again.
Those who can’t see that often lean on ridiculous arguments.
Kids don’t get the virus! (That’s patently false. The Bradenton Herald last week cited Florida Department of Health data showing that 468 children in Manatee County had tested positive, an increase of 136 kids over the previous week.)
The death rate has dropped! (That’s true, but it’s a misleading statistic. First, deaths are a lagging indicator, and U.S. infections have skyrocketed over the past month. Also, people getting the virus are trending younger, meaning they’re more likely to survive. But surviving COVID-19 doesn’t put you in the clear. Researchers see growing evidence of damage the disease does to the body, so the long-term impact of having COVID-19 is unclear.)
If other people are wearing masks, I don’t need one. (Wrong. If two people come in contact, the risk of virus spread is highest if there are no masks, lower if one person is wearing a mask and, logically, lowest if both people are wearing masks. Nobody wants their risk increased.)
I don’t have the virus, so I don’t need to wear a mask! (This is the dumbest of all arguments. Unless you were just tested and have had no contact with other people, you don’t know whether you’re infected or not. Period. Please stop saying that. And even if you don’t have the virus, not wearing a mask increases the chances you’ll get it and unwittingly spread it to others.)
The bottom line is this: If I’m being smart and wearing a mask and you aren’t, you’re putting me at risk. You’re putting my family at risk. You’re putting your family at risk. You’re putting every person you or any member of your family comes into contact with at risk, and those people might put others at risk, and on and on and on.
Think of it like the push for condom use during the AIDS epidemic, when public service announcements noted that when you have sex with someone, you’re having sex with every person that person has slept with.
It’s the same idea, though transmission of the coronavirus is far easier. If you’re unprotected (mask-less) around someone, you’re effectively around anyone that person has been near. You have to assume the worst.
But like putting on a condom, the steps to protect yourself from this virus are not onerous. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands.
I hear endless howling about schools reopening. But if people can’t handle THE MOST BASIC STEPS of slowing the spread of this virus, schools aren’t going to open for long, if at all. And businesses, parks and beaches will close again as well.
Those wearing masks properly and making sure their kids are staying masked and socially distanced want things to get back to some form of normal as much as anyone.
But this virus has two best friends: ignorance and arrogance. And those two seem to be everywhere.
Please put on a mask. Practice safe living.
Anything less is selfish.
Anything less should be straight-up embarrassing.