I wear a mask because I care.
The pandemic has made me think a lot about how connected we are and what responsibility we share to keep each other safe. It is hard not to think about connectedness when this illness has spread to the whole world in a matter of months. It is mind boggling that a virus that first appeared in China is now in our far away Lamar County. That makes me realize that what we do in Lamar County can affect every other person in the world. If actions from such a distant place can affect the whole world, think about how much we affect each other in our own Lamar County.
A simple cloth mask does not do much to protect me but it does protect you. When I sneeze, cough or even just speak, it is caught in my mask and not shared with those around me. I am pretty sure I am not infected but how do I know?
I go to the grocery store and occasionally other shops where too many people are not wearing masks; that means the possibility of asymptomatic neighbors carrying the virus is always there. I do not want to think that I made anyone else sick so my motivation is partly selfish. I do not want to feel guilty about someone getting sick, about the impact on their families and health care workers who will care for them. Wearing a mask in public is about protecting others, not yourself.
America has been built on strong individualism and some do not think putting the greater good first comes naturally to us. I do not agree. My experience is that Americans are a loving, giving and caring people. There are so many examples of Americans reaching out to help others — the two World Wars, 9/11, and hurricanes to name a few.
We will have to come together as a country and a world to move past this virus (and the next one) in order to get back to some sort of normal. Masks, social distancing, testing and contact tracing are going to be a big part of our next normal, whether we like it or not.
Some people are talking a lot about “herd immunity,” but I think they don’t really understand what that means in this situation. That could work if you are willing to accept tens of thousands of deaths and millions of sick people. I am not. What does that do to our economy if people are afraid to go to work, to go out and spend?
We are likely to have more pandemics, so now is the time to think about how to manage them, how to keep ourselves safe and our economy moving. Your health is my health. We are in this together.