Wear your mask – it’s not just about you
We’re grateful that so many people around here are wearing face masks, as the statistics bear out the theory that masks reduce the spread of coronavirus. Sure, wearing a mask is a pain. It makes your face hot and steams up your glasses (put your glasses over the fabric around your nose – that helps), and it just feels strange and unnatural. But it’s important.
It seems obvious that if we want to keep the economy open, we’re going to have to get used to wearing masks, along with hand washing and social distancing. People who complain about wearing masks oughtn’t also complain about their businesses being shut down, because the one supports the other.
COVID-19 is a disease that can and often is spread by infected people before they even know they’re infected, so let’s avoid behaviors that spread disease. On the news we’ve seen scenes from around the country where people, particularly young people, are hanging out on a crowded beach or in a bar in large numbers and without masks.
I, too, was once young and invincible, but I learned a little something about asymptomatic spread. When I was a first-year law student, right before final exams, which constituted 50 to 75 percent of my grade for the entire year, I came down with chicken pox. How did I get exposed? I have no idea. This was in San Francisco and I took the bus to school most days, so it’s possible some kid on the bus had it. The point is that even though I was a healthy 23-year-old, it was the sickest I’ve ever been. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, but with the added torment of unrelenting itching. Even if I’d been up to it, none of my friends were willing to come study with me, and I had to reschedule all my finals. It was NOT a fun time.
So even if you’re young and get COVID-19, it will disrupt your work and home life, and quite possibly make you miserably sick.
But exposing someone to the Coronavirus can lead to far worse outcomes. The older you are, the more likely you are to get a severe case, and when/if you recover, there could be lingering problems with your lungs and other organs.
Again, to relate a personal experience, I watched my 85-year-old father die in the ICU while on a ventilator. This was seven years ago and it wasn’t COVID, but it was pneumonia. Did you know that a person on a ventilator has to be sedated because the experience induces panic? You can’t breathe, you can’t talk, you can’t get out of bed, you’ve lost all control. In my dad’s case, his organs started shutting down and we had to make the wrenching decision to remove all the tubes and monitors and let him go. “Unplugging” someone is such a glib and heartless thing to say, when in reality that decision is the hardest one you’ll ever have to make. He died within about 40 minutes. I was 53 years old, and even then I felt like a little girl who had lost her daddy.
So when you see the statistics about the 125,000+ people who have died so far, and think about the many more who are bound to die, realize that each one of those people is someone’s mother or father, husband or wife, sister or brother, maybe someone’s child.
Please wear your mask for them, for the economy, and for the country.