I’m Wearing a Mask. Are You?

There have been many differing opinions when it comes to how families are handling social isolation and distancing. Some families have a certain group of neighbor kids or cousins they allow their kids to play with. Some families disinfect every item from the grocery store, piece of mail and package that comes through their home. Some families couldn’t wait for the first signs of Phase 1 to bask on the patio of their favorite restaurant. Some families pretty much stay in a bubble. We’re of the latter group. My family and I have withheld hugs from grandparents, refused swim parties and aren’t comfortable sending our kids to camp. We even pulled our kids from school two days before the official shut down was announced. However, I have sincerely tried not to pass judgment on anyone else’s personal choices while we navigate this current state of limbo. We are all (mostly) doing our best.

What I am not ok with is venturing out into an enclosed, public space and seeing so many people sans face mask.

I finally went to the grocery store on my own for the first time in two months. I was prepared to take my time, be extra cautious with the basket, not touch my phone and have my credit card in my pocket so I wouldn’t have to dig through my purse. However, I wasn’t prepared for how infuriated and appalled I would feel when I saw so many people without a mask on. This gut reaction of disappointment threw me completely off guard.

I thought we were all in this together.

Isn’t that what all those sweet, sidewalk chalk messages said? Is it too much to ask that we all contribute towards protecting each other? I’ve been having anxiety as we are venturing out in public again. I was hoping it would come with the peace of mind that we were both doing our part. More than half of the patrons of this grocery store were not wearing masks and, might I add, were also scooching too close to me for comfort. (Hello?? Six feet, please!)

As I was putting my groceries away in my van, I saw a mom and toddler waiting in their car. I thought, “Good for them for not exposing the little one.” Then, the dad walked up to their car, and he didn’t have a mask on. I wanted to shake him and say, “You have a family! Don’t you want others to protect them? Why don’t you have the same courtesy??”

When I see you not wearing a mask in public, it’s as if you are saying to me, “You don’t matter.”

Well guess what, random person in the grocery store who has a wife and child, or elderly grandma to go home to?

YOU matter to ME.

So many options! Understated, Pelicans, Disney Princesses … oh my!

Maybe you don’t scroll through social media to catch the hundreds of opportunities there are to snatch up a face mask … for free! Maybe you don’t watch the news. In case you missed it, according to the CDC:

  • New guidance states that the virus that causes COVID-19 is not primarily spread on surfaces as previously thought, but mainly airborne through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person (within about 6 feet.)
  • The virus may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Yes, wearing a mask can feel uncomfortable and awkward but, it should not be viewed as a personal choice. It’s not about politics, personal freedom or demographics. You are not immune to the virus simply because you don’t live within the highly affected communities. This is a “for the good of your fellow man” public health issue.

We did not just dream that we were home-bound for eight weeks. This is not business as usual. The ENTIRE WORLD practically shut down for months at a time, and if we’re not careful, it will happen again. I want to resume our normal lives, too, but not at the risk of mine and my family’s health.

I’m doing my part … please do yours. I really miss hugs.

Kathryn
Originally from New Orleans, Kathryn graduated from UNO in 2004 with a BA, and worked in film and television production. After fulfilling her dream of living in Los Angeles, she moved back home to be closer to family in 2009. She is now a stay at home mom, and lives in River Ridge with her husband, Derek, and 2 kids, Roni (Veronica) and Remy (Captain Destructo). You can usually find her ratting the streets throughout the day at local outdoor and indoor playgrounds with her diabolical dude. She enjoys wine, any and all fitness classes so she can drink the wine, traveling to places with wine and karaoke!

7 COMMENTS

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. Why aren’t people doing the minimum of what is recommended to protect themselves, and others? Is it really more important to do what you want rather than care more about yourself and others? The pandemic is bad enough but we can make choices that show we care about ourselves and others as well. It is the very least we can do until this storm is weathered. I applaud you for writing this article.

  2. I respect your choice to wear a mask. However, I think this article further divides us by shaming personal choices. I wore a mask for a while during the peak. Now, only about 1 in 10 people in my community are wearing masks. The majority has moved past the mask phase and we are collectively fine with that. People who are still concerned, should continue to stay home, order groceries, and socially isolate. The rest of us weathered the storm and are moving on.

    • I respect personal choices. Is there data that supports those choices, those of yourself and your community? I can understand how a person could deny, disbelieve, or be tired of adhering to public safety guidelines. Is there anything concrete which supports your choices other than your desire to have the right to make your own choice? Even when your choice doesn’t only affect your? I am interested in hearing why you believe the simple guidelines of social distancing and mask wearing do not and should not apply to you and your community? Maybe there isn’t community spread in your area. Maybe you don’t have at-risk family members? Maybe you don’t trust the government. Maybe you are from a long line of epidemiologists who know the data we have been given is inaccurate. There must be something driving this view which is in contrast to the guidelines we have been given. Other than personal choice, what factual basis is there for your choice?

    • WE are not fine and what you are doing is not ok. 100,000 Americans have died. No one has the right to knowingly or unknowingly spread virus. It’s a matter of science that masks are required to stop the spread of respiratory viruses. Because people don’t have enough respect for their fellow human beings to wear masks, I can never leave my house. How does your style, comfort, or enjoyment outweigh that?

  3. While I respect everyone thoughts on the entire mask issue, how many of you have truly stopped to think of others? I don’t wear a mask. It is my choice. However, it is also a decision reached with my doctor. Not every one has the option to wear a mask, some of us have other medical problems that make wearing a mask more dangerous than not wearing one. I have been shamed and given death glares simply by protecting myself the best I can, which does not include a mask. So, as you continue to judge others, maybe remember that not all disabilities are visible to the eye.

  4. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not a bacterium. A virus is on average about 100x smaller than a bacterium. An airborne virus is going to easily travel through the pores of your cloth mask, which are substantially larger.

    Viruses are measured on a nanometer scale.
    Pores in fabrics are measured on a micrometer scale.
    What’s the difference?

    1 micrometer = 1000 nanometers.

    COVID-19 diameter size = 100 nanometers = 0.1 micrometer.

    Typical pore size diameter of various woven cloth fabrics = 10-45 micrometers.

    10 micrometers = 10,000 nanometers.

    🦠 COVID-19: 100 nanometers
    😷 vs your mask: 10,000 nanometers

    For some perspective:

    100 COVID-19 viral particles can fit end to end along the diameter of just one fabric pore in your cloth mask.

    On average, 7,850 COVID-19 viral particles can fit through EACH PORE of your mask.
    (Using Area = pi r squared)

    Cloth masks prevent large droplets from carrying pathogens away from your own face.

    Unfortunately, small, aerosolized droplets which viral particles will be attached to, are still much, much smaller than the pore size of any woven mask.

    And when a person sneezes, while large droplets do exit their mouth, most of the droplets that are generated in a sneeze are aerosolized and can pass easily through a cloth mask.

    A helpful quote from an extensive write-up:

    “Disease transmission through these large droplets is what we often refer to as “droplet/contact spread”, where disease transmission occurs because you touch a surface contaminated by these droplets, or get caught within the spray zone when the patient is coughing.

    Aerosols are so small that buoyant forces overcome gravity, allowing them to say suspended in the air for long periods, or they evaporate before they hit the floor, leaving the solid particulate (“droplet nuclei”) free to float very long distances, causing what we often refer to as “airborne” transmission.”

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15764538/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6832307/

    Dividing people by shaming them is unacceptable. Some people understand that masks do nothing to protect others and they DO cause harm to you. I highly suggest that you keep researching. If you would like hundreds of peer reviewed studies I would love to email them to you.

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