Thursday, October 22, 2020
29.0°F

MASK: Inconvenient, not evil

| October 18, 2020 1:00 AM

Some people think not wearing a mask is about freedom. Using that kind of logic, is sneezing or coughing in proximity to other people without covering our mouths a freedom issue? Or is covering a cough or sneeze an “I don’t want to take the chance of infecting someone else with a cold, flu, or worse even if I don’t have symptoms” kind of logic? Chances are your mama taught you to use those precautions. It’s not only common sense, it’s a kindness, it’s caring about other people. At the least, it’s just good manners.

We’re still learning new things about COVID-19 and how it’s transmitted. We know it’s passed from person to person through droplets that are breathed out and someone else breathes in, or from touching something an infected person has touched. Infectious droplets can remain suspended in the air even after the infected person is no longer there, particularly where there is insufficient ventilation. If not wearing a mask is about freedom, does that apply to handwashing and disinfecting too?

So, amidst all the evidence proving their effectiveness, why would a person not wear a mask? OK, they’re inconvenient, they make your ears stick out, they can be hot and fog up your glasses, you can’t clearly hear what other people say or see their facial expressions, and, after a while, you have to come up for a breath of fresh air. But the inconvenience is worth the effort if it keeps others, and us, safer than if we don’t wear them.

Are masks infallible, do they work all the time, does wearing one mean you can’t get COVID or that you can’t spread it another way? Of course not, but it’s a common-sense safeguard, that and social distancing. The closer we are to an infected person and the things they’ve touched, even if they have no symptoms, the more risk there is. The way I see it, what a person does regarding their own health and safety is their business but not wearing a mask, and calling it freedom of choice, is putting the rest of us at risk.

JAN NOYES

Coeur d’Alene