A stack of medical face masks that we’re wearing to stop the spread of Covid-19. Photo via Canva/mykolasosiukin.
Advocacy & News

Choose Compassion, Wear A Mask

If you can understand the universally held science — and good manners — behind covering your mouth when you cough; you can recognize how wearing a mask in public, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, is an act of commonsense goodwill that could, potentially, save someone’s life.

In the United States, a growing, very vocal group refuses to wear a mask during this pandemic. Reasons for this can vary from being convinced it’s a hoax, to believing the outbreak has been exaggerated, to embracing the position that Constitutional freedoms are being taken away — with many other reasons in-between.

I’m not here to persuade anyone to wear a mask if they don’t want to. If overwhelming global scientific and medical research cannot convince them to do so; I don’t know how to explain to them why they should care about being a part of something that could help prevent other people’s suffering.

I will, however, explain why I wear one and quietly hope that what I share may just be enough to change an anti-maskers mind …

Two people standing outside wearing face masks to stop the spread of Covid-19. Photo by Nathan Dumlao.
photo by Nathan Dumlao

The virus that causes COVID-19 is still new and emergent. We’re given information about how best to defend ourselves against it by world-renowned epidemiologists, scientists and medical professionals; who are continuously studying and reviewing their knowledge as they learn more about it. Preliminary information from the CDC initially stated that masks were not effective in combating Coronavirus spread, but after more research and data proved this understanding to be incorrect; the recommendations were updated to include clear, specific guidance that wearing masks — or other acceptable face coverings — help slow the spread and reduce instances of COVID-19 occurring.

What may have finally convinced the CDC to change its guidance in favor of masks were rising disease prevalence and a clearer understanding that both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission are possible – even common. Studies have found that viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin and that speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets. | USCF – Still Confused About Masks? Here’s The Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus

Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984; and the leading epidemiologist here in the USA, wasn’t lying to the American public or being bad at his job when he amended his initial judgement; to now include mask-wearing for the general public as an appropriate measure in fighting COVID-19. He was providing us with the most recent intelligence that his expertise could produce. Expecting someone to be 100% correct all the time while navigating an ongoing, constantly evolving situation is not only unrealistic, it’s illogical. It wasn’t a nefarious trick or sign of failure; he was providing facts based on the most accurate information he had at the time; in an effort to preserve people’s health and halt a growing number of deaths.

If people feel that being mandated to wear a mask in public spaces is an affront or removal of their freedoms, I’m not going to disagree with them. Being inconvenienced or having to adapt where or how you work, shop, eat, socialize, etc. is a restriction on your personal autonomy; but it’s not being done to permanently oppress. Mask wearing is a temporary social ideal that looks to protect the integrity of the health and lives of ALL people. In a country where healthcare is not a right — because equality of access and affordability to it are neither universal nor guaranteed — it is imperative we act with the greatest kindness and care we can.

Nothing about COVID-19 has been easy, comfortable or conventional, but humans are incredibly resilient and adaptive; we can thrive when we create a new normal. We can achieve remarkable things — so why can’t mitigating impact, and potentially helping those around us avoid a terrible disease be one of them?

When confronted with exasperation, name-calling, suspicion, outright anger, and protestations against wearing a facial covering, my answer will always be the same … I have the right to choose compassion.

I’ve been fighting constantly since September 13th, 2019, to do everything I can to support my husband battle Stage 4 cancer. I won’t allow anything that may jeopardize his survival or contribute to his pain; which includes risking my wellbeing and ability to care for him. I want to protect him with everything I have because he deserves that; the world is definitely a better place with him in it. I could never forgive myself if I gave him COVID-19 just as I would never be able to reconcile any part I played with giving it to anybody else.

A face mask used to stop the spread of Covid-19 hangs from the rear view mirror in a car. Photo by Talia.
photo by Talia

I’ve noticed many discussions around medical exemptions; which do not mean that businesses with mandatory mask-wearing policies have to allow you in while everyone else covers their face. Exemptions mean reasonable accommodations are required to assist you. Online ordering with delivery and curbside pick-up options, having store associates shop for you while you wait or calling the store to get your needs met should be readily available and on offer. Every establishment open to the public should listen to your needs and identify ways they can support accessibility; that I will defend wholeheartedly because genuine medical exemption undoubtedly makes living during a pandemic much more challenging. However, if someone is pretending to have a medical, physical or mental health issue just to prove some political point or get out of wearing a mask; they are taking valuable time and resources away from those who actually require it. This is an affront to how we should be caring for one another and all proven instances of this deceptive virtue signalling should be dealt with seriously.

I’m aware of the incredibly privileged position that being able to wear a mask without any obstacles beyond temporary discomfort and annoyance places me in; I urge all those in similar circumstances to mask up and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. And although it’s not an equivalent condition; I’ve learned since my husband’s cancer diagnosis that it takes an incredible number of people all working together as a cohesive team to combat a terrible disease. I’ve seen firsthand how joining together with a collective goal can vastly improve health outcomes. It does make a difference.

Please wear a mask.


Further Info:

How To Help Others in the COVID-19 Crisis | PBS

18 Sustainable Brands Making Face Masks for Social Distancing | The Good Trade

How To Make An Eco-Friendly DIY Face Mask At Home (no sewing version included) | Green Citizen

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22 thoughts on “Choose Compassion, Wear A Mask”

  1. This was an awesome read, thank you for sharing! I agree that masks need to be worn to save lives & just show that we care about other people, you never know who might be high risk!
    Sending prayers your way!

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  2. I do not understand the sentiment here that it is a God-given right to potentially make other people sick?! I wear a mask on the rare occasion I go out. If I don’t want to wear a mask I just stay home.

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  3. This was a lovely and honest read – sending kind thoughts to you and your husband. I have a mask and do wear it in some situations, although admittedly not everyday.

    However, I think as a society we do need to consider the ease at which wearing masks would put those around us too.

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  4. I completely agree with you! I get it, people don’t want their “freedom” stripped away, but in a way – in my personal opinion – they’re using that as an excuse of “don’t tell me what to do” If people thought more about other high-risk people they could potentially be harming versus themselves, maybe they would be more considerate. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. So true — I get that there is a level of restriction involved in wearing a mask, but if the choice is that you protect vulnerable people then I don’t understand why that doesn’t make everyone who is able to do so mask up!

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  5. Great post and I completely agree! Wearing a mask is a small inconvenience that I’d choose everyday over having more people get ill or even die due to COVID. People need to stop looking at wearing masks as political statement and instead view as a sign of compassion, which it is.

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  6. This is really well written. I can’t even describe the shades of red that I see over these people who think we’re all wearing masks out of fear and control. We’re not scared, damnit, we just have any sense of human compassion and decency! Thank you for saying this so much more eloquently than I can.

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  7. Great post! In the UK it’s only becoming mandatory to wear masks in shops this Friday which is mad to me. What’s even weirder is how so many people still aren’t wearing masks this week. Just because it isn’t mandatory until Friday doesn’t mean that the virus has disappeared until then. It’s crazy! x

    https://www.femaleoriginal.com

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    1. It is something I am saddened by, the fact that people are so against wearing a mask to help others. I had assumed that Britain would be much more reasonable about it than here in the U.S. but it seems that isn’t the case at all. I do hope people get on board with it and realize the good they are doing!

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  8. Great post! I absolutely agree with you! Wearing a mask costs us nothing. Even if someone does not believe it can prevent the spread of the virus, it gives others peace of mind. That alone makes it a small price to pay. Thank you for sharing this.
    My thoughts and prayers go to you and your husband during this difficult time.

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    1. Thank you! I just wish more people would care enough about others to wear a mask and socially distance so we can make every effort to do something about this virus and keep those who would be devastated by it if they caught it safe. Thanks for reading!

      Like

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