To The People In My Community Who Are Still Unwilling To Wear Masks

by Kimberly Zapata
Originally Published: 
Thorsten Nilson/EyeEm/Getty

It’s been more than a year since COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China, and since that time, we’ve learned a lot about the virus. COVID-19 is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. It can be transmitted while speaking, talking, or through a cough or sneeze. One of the defining traits of the illness is a loss of taste or smell, and both social distancing and mask wearing can prevent the spread. Masks have the ability to save lives.

And yet I see “it” all the time. At the grocery store. The pharmacy. In the school yard during drop-off and pick-up. Maskless “wonders” are everywhere — or people who wear the cloth square like a chin warmer (if they wear it at all). And while I’ve never gotten close enough to one of these selfish twits to ask why they refuse to wear a mask, I don’t care. Not really. Not at all. Because no matter what their reasoning, their decision puts others at risk.

Their narcissistic, egotistic, self-centered attitude endangers lives. Period.

Of course, I know what you may be thinking. Who is this vile, ranty bitch, and why should she tell me what to do? I don’t want to be “that” person, the one who yells at strangers (and friends) about wearing masks. I don’t want to be the cloth or N95 police. But I’m trying to live my life, and your mask will help me do that. It will protect both of us, and everyone around us. Also, I’m not the one telling you to mask up: Doctors are. Scientists are. Hell, the government is. Effective as of February 2nd, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, amongst other things.

So why are we still fighting it? Why are we fighting logic, reasoning, and the CDC? Well, the main argument I’ve heard — on Facebook and within my community — revolves around perceived “rights” and freedoms. Mask wearing shouldn’t be enforced. It’s a personal decision, one which the government cannot and should not control. Some also believe certain situations are harmless or “safe.” Outdoor activities, for example, are often viewed as secure. And others just don’t give a damn. Masks are uncomfortable and inconvenient, or so they say.

I admit mask wearing isn’t ideal. Masks are awkward and annoying and make breathing cumbersome; as someone who has trouble hearing, they can also make conversations difficult. But they are essential, through and through. Masks stop the transmission of COVID-19 and other contagious germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, masks protect the wearer and anyone (and everyone) who comes in close contact.

“[The] CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people… to protect [themself] and others and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

But masks don’t just save lives; they improve the quality. With masks, we are able to see our loved ones more frequently. We can have socially distanced visits and playdates with our family, friends, and peers. With masks, we can work. My husband’s company stayed afloat because of masks, because they followed the CDC’s recommended best practices operating in the middle of a pandemic. With masks, schools can open. Children can get socialization and an education. They can get what they need, mentally and emotionally. And because of masks, my dear friend was able to see her father in ICU when a sudden cardiac condition nearly claimed his life — a luxury I was not allowed when my mother died in June.

I said goodbye virtually, while a nurse held her phone.

So while I get the reluctance and hesitation — while I understand the frustration — wearing a mask isn’t an act of oppression. It is an act of affection, kindness, and generosity toward yourself, your friends, your loved ones, and your peers. So please, consider your asthmatic neighbor, or your immunocompromised friend or family member, and mask up. The sooner we cover up, the sooner we can come out of this: better and stronger than before.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.

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