(Quick edit – Most of the Republicans I know wear a mask and most of the Democrats I know wear a mask for the right reason, but there are so many out there…)
A couple of weeks ago I was in a team meeting. My manager was talking about new policy for reopening facilities and ended by saying (paraphrased), “I still want you all to telecommute full time unless there is an emergency that demands your on-site attention. Your health, and your families’ health, are more import than a job. And I don’t care about your personal politics, wear a mask!” It was a very nice statement, but a little strange that he had to say anything about politics.
A couple of days later I had to go into a gas station. Even though I was the only customer in there, I put on my mask before entering. A minute later a few other people came in, and by the time I left there were maybe six others. Not a one had a mask. Several gave me dirty looks. One stared at me with complete hatred. I tried to ignore him, but prepared myself for violence. He followed me around with clenched fists and gritted teeth. This person wasn’t just refusing to wear a mask for political reasons, he was taking me wearing a mask as a personal attack.
This is just such odd behavior, like nothing I have experienced in my life.
Why is a safety device a political statement?
Here is another strange question – these non-mask wearers say that asking them to wear a mask is infringing on their freedoms. More on that later, but my question is, why they don’t see me wearing a mask as expressing my freedom? Why is it that these type of people only see their own opinions as freedom, while nobody else is allowed to voice their own opinions? Uhm, doesn’t freedom go both ways?
There are a few truths about masks.
Wearing a mask is not about fear (see below for more).
Masks have been proven to save lives.
After months of the virus spreading around the world, people can see trends. The biggest trend is that the more people who wear a mask in a given area, the less likely the virus was to spread. At this time, with no vaccine, wearing a mask is the only known way to slow down the virus. The. Only. Way. Period.
Every single health official, every person who studies this, all agree. Every one of them.
Only a handful of politicians say otherwise.
That is why it is political.
And it is having an effect.
I hear all of the time that wearing a mask is about fear. I read yesterday a fellow blogger state that the “fake media” is using fear to manipulate people to wear masks as step one of making them do their nefarious bidding. Uhm, no.
I wrote another post about masks. In that post, I laid out the reason for wearing a mask. A super quick recap – The virus is not airborne by itself, it travels in water droplets. If you wear a mask, you have some limited protection against these water droplets, but it isn’t great. On the other hand, if you already have the virus, the masks helps a great deal in stopping it at the source. Both sides wearing the mask and staying socially distanced is the best case.
What I am saying is that wearing a mask is more of a curtsy to keep you from spreading it if you are an asymptomatic carrier, or in the early stages and not showing symptoms yet.
You wear a mask to help others, not because you are afraid. To help others.
OK, more about freedom.
I tell you that you have to wear shirt, shoes and pants to enter my store. Fine. But a mask? Outrage! Wear seat-belt or get fined? I don’t like it, but fine, or actually, no fine for me, I wear a seat-belt. A mask? Outrage! Do you wear safety glasses or googles when working industrial power tools? The mandatory hard hat in a construction zone? Rope off when doing work at heights? A face shield when welding? Protective gloves?
In many ways, a mask goes even farther than some of these safety devices.
Right now, the coronavirus is the leading cause of death in the US, so it really is deadly, that isn’t hype. It has also been linked to brain issues, including stroke. It has been linked to long term effects. It has killed many older and at risk people.
Since the main benefit of wearing a mask is that it cuts down the transmission from people who already have the virus, when you wear a mask, you are potentially saving lives.
In other words, if you are not wearing a mask and, unbeknownst to yourself, you have the virus, you may be giving people around you a death sentence. You could be killing people. You could very well be a murderer.
In the last few days, because of outside pressure, people in the Trump administration have finally, grudgingly, admitted that wearing a mask might be OK. Finally! Last month Trump said people wore masks as a personal attack against him. Yesterday, after every top Republican asked him to wear a mask, Trump said he was “all for masks”.
Yesterday in the grocery store, over a third of the people (non-employees) did not have masks on. Nobody in the cramped post office wore one. I did see a few embarrassed looks, but also a few disdainful looks. You could read the statement behind their eyes – “Look at all of the sheep being mislead by the liberal, fake news, mainstream media!”
So there is finally begrudging change at the top with some encouragement of masks, but it hasn’t hit the rank and file yet. To them, it is still a huge political issue.
And until it stops being a political issue for many, the cases will continue to climb.
This is my third Covid-19 post. Here are the other two: