Some time ago, I bowed out of the mask controversy, I suppose because I have many friends who are intelligent enough to see both sides of the issue and respond responsibly, and quite differently to the issue on a personal basis. In a few days, we are going to the polls to elect a President and the election, in large part, hangs on the nation’s response to management of the the big “C” or Coronavirus. The world, in it’s entirety, is facing a resurgence of this virus at a time when we need it least, the winter flu and cold season. I am not writing today to provoke argument or attempt to persuade. Instead, I simply want to offer an opinion to my friends to put my conscious at ease.
Chris Christie, a politician from New Jersey is recovering from a severe case of Covid. He has written an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal about his experiences in an ICU ward where his doctors offered absolutely no guarantee that he would not soon experience what doctors are calling a “Celestial Discharge” from the hospital, that is an entry into the afterlife as opposed to convalescence at home. The title of his piece is “I Should Have Worn a Mask” at the Rose Garden announcement of our soon to be newest Justice on the Supreme Court. Christie was a mask wearer, but decided against it at the ceremony. When admitted to the hospital three days later, he was running a fever, in extreme pain, chilling and utterly exhausted. He was soon in ICU, hanging on to that tiny thread of life that has parted for so many. He was fortunate, but has no idea what damage has been done to his body.
You wouldn’t know it, but the mask is more than a political prop. It has become a symbol of virility, machismo, cultural significance, weakness, strength and the freedom to do as one pleases, like wearing a motorcycle helmet or sun block or not. We are still learning about this virus and it’s implications, and after all the fanfare about vaccines and curative applications of old medicines, the best avenue to approach it is to keep it away from your eyes, nose and mouth, and to wash your hands. Pretty simple in a world that is far from simple.
A recent survey has shown that 86% of Americans believe that a properly worn mask is preventative. Yet, in America, only 50% of the population wears one, about 90% of the time. That is all we need to know about numbers, beyond the escalating numbers of cases across our country.
Now, for the arguments. A mask that is dug out of your nasty work pants pocket, un-balled and casually strapped on to enter a venue where masks are required, is likely compromised. Sharon and I rely on a system that I have dubbed the “Mist and Mask” protocol. We use very good fitting cloth masks that we religiously mist with alcohol each time we take them off. We carry a little mister with us and saturate the mask and straps after gelling our hands in the car, and place the mask on the dash to dry. We bring our mister to the table (dining out) and spray our hands when we sit and when we mask up to leave. We carry a supply of sealed, paper masks with us for use if our cloth masks are still damp with alcohol. There are those who have a fatalistic approach. “If I am infected, it is in God’s hands”. There are those who think the whole thing is a hoax and not serious. I have a number of friends in the medical community who can, in fifteen short minutes, explain the realities of the disease and the lonely deaths that are tearing at their very souls. My life is in the hands of my medical team and they, without reservation, recommend wearing a properly fitted mask.
So, those are my thoughts on the matter. You may consider them, or not. Either way, I hope we remain friends. After this election cycle, win or lose, we are still going to deal with Covid for a good while. November 3d is not the end of a cycle, rather the beginning of another era of discord, viciousness and polarization, no matter who is in the White House. Gov. Christie has offered a stark reminder about the sinister aspects of Covid 19, from a personal perspective. As my old Sergeant was fond of saying, “Bought learning is the best learning”. We can learn from both the Sergeant and the Governor………or not.
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading..