coronavirus mask

I don't like face masks.

They're uncomfortable, hard to breathe through, annoying, and I am continually making re-adjustments because I'm not used to having a string tied to my head or fabric over my mouth. If it were up to me, if my actions did not affect anyone, I wouldn't wear a mask.

I would also drive my car as fast as I wanted, and park it anywhere I pleased. I would talk in theatres, play my music louder, grill steaks from my apartment's second-story patio, and let the smoke go where it may.

But because I live in a society where my actions could adversely affect others, I follow the rules and laws. I am considerate of others. I do unto others as I would want them to do to me.

I don't like face masks, but I will wear one at the appropriate times and places. Why? Because it is a small enough annoyance to manage when you consider we are dealing with a virus that can stay in the air for up to three hours, has no known cure, has infected over 1.25 million Americans and killed over 75,000.

I know, deep down, I will never get COVID-19. I have an awesome immune system, and I rarely get a cold or miss a day of work. I calculate my odds at less than 1% of catching the coronavirus.

But, if I were wrong, and the 100:1 shot came in... if my awesome immune system failed me, and I caught the coronavirus and transmitted it to someone in our community that had a lesser immune system than me and died, I couldn't live with myself.

It is for that primary reason we wear a face mask... to protect each other, not ourselves.

There is a time when the individualist spirit in all of us goes out into the world to stake our claim, work hard, and make our dreams come true. It's us against everyone. At certain times, that is the American way.

However, fighting COVID-19 isn't one of those times.

In times of pandemic, we stand together as a neighborhood, community, city, state, or nation, and persevere together.

There has been a lot of debate about face masks on popular social media sites in Alachua County and throughout the country. Residents, probably frustrated from weeks of stay at home orders, are expressing their views about more limitations set in response to the coronavirus. They have thrown around phrases like socialism, civil rights violations, oppression, and overreaching elected officials in describing face masks.

I certainly understand the desire to push back on government restrictions, but perhaps your protests are the overreach in this instance. Is it possible that the minor and temporary restrictions imposed to improve public safety are just that?

Minor.

Temporary.

Improve public safety.

However, if you think wearing a mask is akin to socialism or communism, I would refer you to oppressive regimes like China - where residents lived under quarantine for months under the watchful eye of the government. I would also refer you to Russia, where three frontline health care workers mysteriously fell out of hospital windows over the past two weeks.

If you sincerely believe that your civil rights are being trampled upon because you have to wear a mask during a public health crisis, I would refer you to slavery, women's suffrage, worker's conditions at the turn of the century, World War II restrictions on American citizens, the holocaust, Jim Crow laws, and countless other atrocities where people actually suffered.

Is wearing a face mask truly where you want to stand your ground?

Is this your Patrick Henry moment?

Is this the place where you cross the Rubicon?

Is this the bus seat you will not give up?

Is this the lunch counter you refuse to leave?

And what about these commissioners imposing the face mask mandate on Alachua County residents just as we were heading into a phase one re-opening of the state?

The coronavirus is perhaps the most significant challenge many leaders will face in their careers. It is fair to assess their performances and vote accordingly. Judge all of them - from the president to senators, congress, legislature, governor, county chair, county commissioners, mayors, and city commissioners in this time of crisis. However, also understand the difference between judging the job performance of an elected official and being political during an emergency.

Voters can surely bring a range of ideologies with them to the ballot box. And how to balance the economy with public safety during a crisis should be one of them. This coronavirus has been a stress test for our leaders, and in many ways, shows their priorities in stark terms. Surely some approaches deserve spirited debate.

When should we re-open the economy, and how?

Should restaurants be allowed to open their indoor dining areas?

How many customers should be allowed in a retail store?

Which businesses should be allowed to open?

Can we go to the beach?

When should we re-open schools?

After six weeks in lockdown, it is a blessing to go back into the world with just a little more flexibility than we had. We are still not out of the woods, but it appears things are better than they were - enough to start phase one of re-opening Alachua County and Florida.

It seems a small enough price to wear a face mask during this period. There is little downside, and a great deal of potential upside - primarily the safety of our community.

A co-worker at Mainstreet Daily News emailed the staff a quote from the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who lived in Paris during the Nazi occupation, one of the worst times and places in history. His words are appropriate for this time in history as well:

"Look back, look forth, look close, there may be more prosperous times, more intelligent times, more spiritual times, more magical times, and more happy times, but this one, this small moment in the history of the universe, this is ours. And let's do everything with it. Everything."

These may well be the worst of times and the worst of conditions we will ever experience in our lives, but let's experience them, let's learn from them, and let's grow as a community and a nation in this time of crisis. Let's come out on the other side of this pandemic as better people.

But most of all, let's not unravel and fight over petty annoyances. Not now.

And for those of you poised to run these incumbents out of office, fear not. November is right around the corner. There's plenty of time to swing that political hammer with abandon.

In the meantime, let's summon our better angels and survive COVID-19 with dignity, grace, charity, and goodwill for all.

We're going to win this thing. It's only a matter of time.

(12) comments

Guest

Thank you. Time to come together, support and protect one another. Wearing a mask is the smallest of asks in that arena.

kmlisle

I am a cancer patient and I have mostly stayed home to protectyself. But when I go go out as I did for an oncology appointment last week I do appreciate people who respect others health enough to wear a mask. You won't recognize me as someone whose life is endangered by covid. I look healthy but people with no masks on are literally a threat to my health and probablyy life.

Guest

I read the entire article and understand the writer's thinking, but even the CDC and the WHO do not say that masks should be a requirement. The CDC specifically says that homemade cloth face coverings "can be used as an additional, VOLUNTARY public health measure." (emphasis added). Additionally, the WHO states, "If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19." (Links below).

The county has also overreached in its persons/square feet orders in that the WHO only recommends maintaining "at least a 3 feet distance between you and others" and the CDC recommends staying "at least 6 feet away". If you take the further distance of 6 feet and multiply that out, that is 1 person per 113 square feet. Our county has finally relinquished at 1 person / 500 square feet from 1/1,000 and then 1/750.

The issue that most people have with this is not the actual wearing of the face covering but with the forcing of people to do it and with the overstepping of the commissioners to enforce orders that are even more far-reaching than the "experts". Alachua is not a "hot spot" for the virus, and yet the commissioners keep comparing our county with Miami. Alachua County will never compare to places like NYC where there are approximately 30,000 people per square mile or Miami where there are approximately 12,000 people per square mile. In Gainesville, our population density is approximately 2,000 people per square mile.

While I appreciate their efforts to help "protect our community," many of our commissioners are not informed. I sat and watched the entire almost 5 hour commission meeting where they talked about these issues, and was quite distraught that several of the commissioners came into the meeting unprepared and uninformed and still saw fit to pass orders without taking just a few minutes to research CDC and WHO recommendations as well as our governors First Phase Announcement. It was quite disturbing.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

Guest

Well said!

Guest

This reply is well thought out and the voice of many who have been reading and educating themselves. Thank you for taking the time to share!

Guest

The word VOLUNTARY (emphasis added) does not appear on that page. The CDC clearly actually recommends wearing facemasks at all times in public at stores and such.

Guest

Yes, the CDC does use the word "voluntary". Just take the time to keep reading and you will see it. I'd screenshot it for you, but I can't post pictures here.

Guest

Children are dying. They are getting weird, debilitating, illnesses somehow related to this virus. 75 kids in New York City are reported to have one of a couple possible VERY BAD related illnesses as of yesterday. I'm not counting those who have died. And before you say that "We're not New York City," what gives you the right to declare this acceptable for even a single child? You have some knowledge, how convenient that you can ignore these victims. Your parents must be proud.

Guest

It is tragic when someone dies, especially a child and people die all the time from things that can actually be prevented. For instance, approximately 430 infants die each year in the U.S. from second hand smoke and over 4,000 children die each year in the U.S. from alcohol related deaths. Are you also against these things? What have you done to help the over 3 million children worldwide who die each year of starvation or malnutrition? These are all things that can be helped more than a mask trying to prevent a virus that is approximately 125 nanometers in size (for size reference a strand of hair is approximately 75,000 - 100,000 nanometers in size). I appreciate your passion, and I hope you are this passionate about helping others all the time not just during this pandemic.

Guest

Well written and excellent points. As an anthropologist I have found it curious that face masks have become the standard bearer in our sadly divided country. The face mask I wear to protect you respects the face mask you wear to protect me.

Guest

Nice quote by a communist to back up your terrible argument. That alone invalidates most of your rambling and shows your true colors and ideological bent.

Guest

Love this article. It pretty much covers the whole conundrum. Well thought out and well articulated. Fortunately, most people feel the way the author does on the subject of masks and community well being. If they did not, I would be worried about the future of our country.

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