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 …
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.
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.
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