I can’t believe we are having a full-blown culture war over covering our mouths and noses during a pandemic.
OK, I kind of can. I do remember how at the beginning of this thing people started hoarding masks and everyone screamed about how masks won’t help and we should leave them for the professionals. So, we all got the idea in our heads that masks were the wrong approach.
Now the science has flipped and the latest word is that masks will help, but they won’t help you. Instead, the masks will help the person standing next to you.
All the science speak about nano-particles and how small a virus really is is apparently true and a fabric mask won’t stop the virus from crawling onto your face. (Can RNA crawl? I don’t know. Let’s pretend it can.) If someone sneezes a gust of corona-breath at you, your mask isn’t going to save you.
But if the sneezer is wearing a mask that holds the corona-breath closer to their face? Well, now we’re talking.
The latest models say that wearing a mask reduces spread of the virus by carriers. And we all have to assume we are carriers, since there is such a long incubation stage of the disease. We can have it without knowing it. Allegedly, if 80% of us started wearing masks all the time in public, we would cause the transmission rate from our own mouths and noses to plummet.
This of it this way: wear a mask for the same reason a surgeon wears a mask.
These doctors aren’t wearing masks because they are worried that a brain tumor or an inflamed gallbladder is going to leap up from the patient and infect them. They’re doing it so they don’t sneeze into the surgical wound. The masks aren’t about protecting them, they are about protecting you, the person lying helpless on the table.
Or to put it another way, the mask is your sneeze guard.
The little plexiglass window over the salad bar isn’t to keep the lettuce from jumping up and lodging itself in your nose. But it will keep you from coughing on the lettuce and contaminating it for the next person in line.
Basically, wearing a mask is a weird and uncomfortable thing that you have to do to help someone other than yourself. Unlike wearing Spanx, which is arguably weirder and more uncomfortable, but is all about improving the appearance of yourself. I get that it’s easier to resign yourself to discomfort when it has an appreciable effect on your own life, whereas it’s harder to put yourself out for others but…c’mon. For once we should all suck it up and be good neighbors.
This virus is crazy. People can walk around for days or weeks without symptoms and they spread the ubiquitous little spiky demons wherever they go. You could be one of those people and not even know it! And if you were and coughed on a shelf at Target? Boom. You’ve risked someone else’s life.
Wear the mask and keep your germs to yourself. Please.
Salad bar photo by 玄史生 – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41167887