So what is the big deal? I would like to think any regular person could see the cumulative and collective benefit of wearing a mask during this global pandemic. Yet we see incident after incident of people in grocery stores or favorite restaurants freaking out over the management asking them to ‘please wear a mask’. It’s clear from what the experts report and what the science tells us (not to mention good old common sense) that wearing a mask protects yourself and others from COVID 19. A disease that is currently claiming the lives of over 2000 Americans a day. A disease that is overwhelming our healthcare system and likely to break the spirit of our healthcare professionals. This disease is devastating our economy and leaving far too many wondering how to keep groceries on the table and avoid eviction. A disease that has been politicized for the benefit of some of our law makers. The answer to getting this pandemic under control lies in our collective hands. The experts tell us that the solution (for now, as vaccine is coming) could be as simple as (science backs this up), wearing a mask and social distancing *(and wash those hands frequently). Yet, repeatedly, news story after story and online video after video, show anti-maskers yelling and stomping and generally making a complete fool of themselves in response to this request. The question remains, what’s the big deal with simply wearing a mask?
Prior to November this year I did not personally know anyone who actually had the coronavirus. This led me, like many others, to question if it was really ‘as bad’ as the experts were telling us. Last week my partner’s family came in from out of town. We were responsible and wore masks while we visited outside. To be completely transparent, they had been told in route (they live a few states away) that they had been exposed to a family member who had just tested positive for Covid19. They admitted that they had recently visited with this person (no masks on), hugs and indoor visiting included. After some debate, we decided to go ahead with this visit with the precautions of visiting outside and wearing masks. After all, they had traveled far and rented a motel room. Mostly, they just really wanted to see their loved ones. I’ll admit that I had serious reservations about this but I didn’t want to be the one to say ‘no’. It was an uncomfortable situation. My partner and I, agreed to take the recommended precautions to feel safe about the visit, and told them to come ahead. Like I said, we wore masks and visited outside. We even cooked a meal and shared it while distancing around the fire pit outside. Two days after our visit, they got the results back from their own tests. They were positive for Covid19 while remaining asymptomatic. I’m so thankful that we took precautions. I have an autoimmune disorder and take medications that suppress my immune system. I’m not sure how the virus would affect me considering these underlying health conditions. From what the healthcare experts share, I might well be one of those who end up on a ventilator. My partner also has underlying health issues. This could have been disastrous. I’m so thankful that we all did our part to keep safe.
I can’t imagine accessing the overwhelmed hospitals in Los Angeles (home base) right now. That’s assuming that one could able even get a bed at this point in time. I have to wonder about the quality of care I could receive from the overworked and apparently disillusioned hospital staff. I think about dying alone in a hospital bed far from my loved ones, a tube down my throat, unable to speak, unable to say good bye. Those thoughts ran through my head when I found out that my partner’s family members tested positive. We scheduled our own tests for Covid19. The line around Dodger Stadium was a couple hours long but we got our tests done. Two days later we found out that we were all three negative (this includes my partners’ 12 year old son). His son lives between mom and dad and his other household includes two other children (this means another household as one child also lives between parents), and his mother’s partner. She owns a clothing boutique. Imagine the possible spread had we not concerned ourselves with protecting against this virus.
I share this story to impress upon others, that masking and social distancing work! It would have been so much easier to ignore the science and just assume that everything would be fine. After all, I had not personally known anyone, prior to this event, that actually had the virus. Yes it was less comfortable and less enjoyable, but we still got to see them and be ‘safe’ about it. Plus, it was a bit of an adventure to cook outside and enjoy the fire pit. We even all took the dog on a walk together (all masked up but still enjoying being together). I’m so thankful that we took care of each other by following the guidelines. If we had known they were positive we would have cancelled the visit altogether. In hindsight, it seems foolish and risky to not have done so anyway, but masks and distancing kept us safe. Wearing a mask protected us from catching Covid19, I have no doubt about that.
Many of us have seen the interviews in mainstream media, the videos and posts from our healthcare professionals sharing their experiences and generally begging us to ‘wear a mask’. I can not imagine what the nurses, doctors and healthcare support staff go through on a daily basis as they attempt (often in vain) to save the lives of American’s from Covid19 literally ‘in bulk’ at this point in time. This requires them, to put their own lives on the line. All the while knowing that if the masses would comply with a simple request, many of those hospitalized, would instead be home and safe. How do healthcare professionals go on day after day, risking their own lives and the wellness of their own families? Many have chosen to live separately from their families and children in an attempt to protect them. These mothers and fathers haven’t gotten to see or hold their loved one’s close because they are busy saving OUR lives. I could not blame any one of them for saying, “this is asking too much”. Especially those nurses and doctors who describe treating a Covid19 positive patient as he/she rails against the masks and PPE the staff wear. Those same patients, deny that they have the virus, insisting that it’s a hoax. Then, they see patient after patient lose their fight with this disease. They die alone and isolated from their family, intubated, without the ability to speak. Their efforts to save lives must at times, seem all for naught. In the face of this sacrifice, this heroism, how could any one of us consider NOT doing whatever possible personally to help? Again, the only thing that we CAN do, is wear a mask. So what is the big deal with doing so?
Many hospitals have filled to capacity and more patients need intensive treatment related to Covid19 than our system (in many parts of the country) has the ability both in space and staffing, to effectively respond to. Our nurses and doctors work tirelessly, day after grueling day, attempting to save lives. I’m hearing that hospitals are calling on retired professionals to come in and help. I’m hearing that nurses from other parts of the country fly in from less harder hit areas to help. These heroes are experiencing firsthand the reduction in quality as quantity takes precedence. I imagine they experience this suffering on a very personal level. After all, most were called to this line of work, they want to help others. I have to wonder at the cumulative effects. How does all this suffering and loss affect our helpers wellness? This is not only about a sense of physical risk but also a sacrifice of emotional and spiritual wellness. If we can ask this of our doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff, how can we even consider not doing our part?
What about the other patients? Those that are dealing with life threatening disease or accident non-Covid19 related? My thinking, “you better hope you don’t have an emergency at this point in time”. At the end of October, an adverse reaction to prescribed medication landed me in the hospital. Miserable and in extreme pain, my gratitude for emergency medical care significantly increased. I imagine the same thing happening in early December and I’m just SO very grateful that my emergency happened at a time when the hospital could treat me safely and effectively. Prior to this pandemic our healthcare system already kept a brisk pace. Healthcare emergencies happen daily and they don’t stop just because something bigger and glitzier takes center stage. I’m worried about the millions across the country experiencing other healthcare emergencies. I’m worried because the NO Vacancy sign is lit and the Inn Keepers seem otherwise overwhelmed. The cost in lives is not only related to Covid19 but in the emergencies that people are not going to the hospitals for. They know that they will be exposing themselves to Covid19 and/or waiting hours to be seen. We are in trouble and so again, I ask you, what is the big deal with wearing a mask?
As the economic consequences of Covid19 devastates our economy the reality of this pandemic hits home in far too many American households. With unemployment at an all time high, so many wonder how they will pay the rent and keep food on the table. I’ve felt lucky in the months since the pandemic hit. My job allows me to work at home. Yet I’ve watched the news and online videos and seen the lines of cars around food banks stretching hours long. I hear the stories of small business owners heart sick as they close the doors of their family business for the last time. I’ve heard the interviews with mother’s and father’s talking about facing eviction and wondering how to keep a roof over their children’s heads. One of the most heartbreaking, a mother of three, who talked about eating only one meal a day, so that her children would have enough. Again, in the face of all this, I ask “what is the big deal with masking”?
As we wait for economic relief from our government things seem only to get worse. Congress and the Senate appear more concerned about what side of the Trump controversy to align themselves with, rather than the wellness of the American citizens. We suffer and die by the thousands as they settle on an economic package that clearly serves anyone but us. Reportedly the new stimulus includes no cash payments and very little unemployment benefits and extensions. Many of these same law makers stand or sit in the Capitol Building NOT wearing a mask while they work these deals. Not only do they appear uninterested in passing a bill that would bring any real relief to the American citizens they serve, but they won’t even wear a mask to protect their fellow law makers (let alone set the example for the nation). I blame these same politicians for the politicization and in turn weaponization of this virus. Trump didn’t do this alone. Look at other countries who have similar resources and scope. The United States should be leading the example in dealing with Covid19. Instead we fight amongst ourselves and let thousands die needlessly. Trump holds rallies and holiday parties without masks or social distancing. He carelessly spreads Covid19 to the masses who have no hope of getting the kind of care he received at Walter Reed. Why do our law makers refuse to do their part to protect and serve? I can only conclude that they simply don’t care about us. It’s disheartening and invokes a sense of anger that is hard to know what do with. As I watch the Biden administration gearing up to take office January 20th, I have hope. He does set the example and he expects all of us to do the same. He tells us that he will get aid to us when he’s in the White House. He stated, ‘aid is coming’. I have hope along with a healthy amount of skepticism. I’ll keep doing my part and hope that the incoming administration will provide better direction, care and aid.
Three nights ago I got the call from Human Resources. They let me know that due to Covid19 economic reasons, layoffs have arrived to our office. My partner experienced lay off at the beginning of the pandemic. So now our household has no employed member, scary times indeed. I’m applying for unemployment. I’m adding up the bills and wondering what I can put off and what I need to prioritize. Hoping against hope that I can land something else before I start losing the ability to stay on top of things. I have to admit, I’m scared, I don’t have a lot of time before I’ll start losing the things I’ve worked hard for. I’m scared that we will lose it all and wonder at what point eviction and food security become an issue? I know about poverty first hand. I grew up with four siblings and my parents, at times we lived in one room shacks, we didn’t’ always have enough food and my parents stressed over affording medical care for my chronically ill brother. My father worked full time and my mom stayed home with us. Yet still, we lived in poverty. I thought my education and my willingness to do whatever I needed to do (I’ve worked any job I had to to stay afloat in the past) protected me from facing poverty again in my lifetime. I just didn’t factor in the risk of a global pandemic and the unwillingness of other people to also do whatever it took to care for the collective good. Right now, the ONLY thing we CAN do, to fight this disease, is wear a mask. Far too many are unwilling to do their part. It’s a simple sacrifice of personal comfort and it DOES affect the rest of us. Frankly, that makes me angry and very sad. I ask again, what is the big deal with wearing a mask?
We face dire consequences, literally life and death. Yet the lady in aisle three still throws her temper tantrum about civil liberties and constitutional rights. The store clerk simply asked her to put on a mask. What she’s really asked being to do is make her self a little less comfortable for a short time. It embarrasses me as a global citizen that so many American’s exhibit this kind of entitlement and seem so unaware of their sense of privilege. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands die. These same people want our doctors and nurses to take care of them if they get sick, right? They expect us all to pull our weight and not burden the ‘system’, right? Come to think of it, they’re the same one’s who sneeringly remind us that it’s ‘their’ tax dollars on those EBT cards? My thought is, do your part, and those needing assistance can get back to work sooner. The economic consequences won’t end until we successfully neutralize this pandemic. We all help when we help stop the spread.
The experts share this simple solution (science backs this up), wear a mask and social distance (wash those hands frequently too!). Yes, we have vaccines and therapeutics on the way, but those are months in the future and today over 2000 people will lose their lives to this disease. Today thousands more turned to unemployment and safety net programs in hopes of staying afloat financially. Today another small business closed it’s doors for the last time. Today another nurse or doctor faced the ICU as his/her spirit sank lower. Today people sat in that food bank line for hours so that their children could eat tomorrow. Today our children continued to school online instead of in a classroom. Today our country suffers. I’m afraid tomorrow circumstances continue to worsen unless those that refuse to help, start helping. We can turn this thing around, simply by taking the steps needed to prevent further spread. Today you can help by putting on a mask if you have to go out. Today the question remains, what’s the big deal with simply wearing a mask and why wouldn’t you do anything you could to help? What’s the big deal with wearing a mask? I would say the big deal is NOT wearing one.