Does anyone enjoy wearing a mask when leaving home? Masks often are uncomfortable, fog up eyeglasses and muffle speech.
Yet, there are clear indications that face masks are currently one of the few ways we can help protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. If we want to make this pandemic less costly in money and lives, let’s mask our objections and wear the darn things.
I’ve been disappointed in our American response to wearing masks during this pandemic, but I gained hope recently. While waiting at Kroger for my online order to brought to my car, a good-looking young man, probably in his late 20s, parked his eye-catching Honda motorcycle next to my car. He took off his helmet and walked to the back of his bike to secure it. I figured he’s too macho for a mask.
Wrong! From out of the storage compartment on his bike, came a blue mask which he put on immediately. I gave him a thumbs up. Twenty seconds later, he held up a pack of masks showing me that he takes mask wearing seriously. What a great role model!
Most scientists agree that cloth devices in front of one’s nose and mouth prevent droplets of moisture, which carry the viruses, from being readily transmitted.
Masks do not cure diseases, but there is evidence that asymptomatic people can spread COVID-19. As advanced as we Americans want to believe we are, our case numbers and fatalities are proof we’ve been naive and foolish in dealing with COVID-19.
Currently, only three options — physical-social distancing, hand washing and masks — help limit COVID-19’s spread. Once mandated home confinements ended, we went hog wild with close social interactions; now we’re paying the price. If the scarcity of liquid hand soap is any indication, we’re doing better with hand washing. But masks seem to engender extreme opposition from some.
Yes, I know, we Americans love our individual rights. Americans fought for years to avoid wearing seat belts in our vehicles because we wanted to be comfortable and do our “own” thing. Because seat belt laws are now compulsory in most states, we’ve learned to buckle up. We’ve seen a decrease in vehicle deaths since then.
As of this weekend, the top four countries with the greatest number of COVID-19 cases are the United States, Brazil, Russia and India. These four nations are now led by authoritarian leaders who brook no criticism and downplay the extensiveness of this disease. That may just be a coincidence, but I doubt it. China, where the disease originated, has an avowed Communist dictatorship and the numbers from that nation are not easily verified.
Forbes Magazine ranked nations on how well they are handling COVID-19 in health and economy measures. Switzerland and Germany were ranked numbers one and two, while the U.S. ranked number 58, behind Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. Sad and embarrassing!
The U.S.’s COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and social distancing plans are weak and disorganized.
Until our national leaders believe that the pandemic is killing our families and friends, economy and international reputation, not much will change.
So, in the meantime, wash your hands, physical-social distance and, like that cool guy with the Honda bike, wear a darn mask when you socialize away from home.