122 days ago the President declared a national emergency in the US.
During the days, weeks, and months following, our nation was told to go to its room and stay there. There would be no playdates with friends, no vacations to Disney World, and traditional schooling as we knew it, moved online. Churches, restaurants, stores, beaches, local and national parks all closed. Graduations and proms were canceled.
Our country shut down. While controversial, we were told we needed to do this to get through this. And for the most part, people complied. We bitched and moaned, cried, and screamed, but we complied because it was supposed to be a short term situation and would save thousands of lives.
Ahhh, but that nasty little pandemic beckoned us through window panes. Like an impatient child, it whined, "come outside and play with me. It's okay. You'll be safe. And we'll have so much fun." And so we did.
Slowly, state by state restrictions have been lifted, businesses have been reopening and people encouraged to go back to normal. There were guidelines put in place to make going back to normal safe for everyone, specifically:
Practice social distancing by staying 6 feet apart from people
Wash hands frequently
Wear a mask
Me! Me! Me!
There weren't 100 guidelines, or 50, or 10. Just a few, basic, courteous, reasonable requests that if you chose to leave your room and go play with the pandemic, you should follow... for your safety and the safety of others. And to continue to flatten the curve and get a handle on this thing so everyone would be safe reentering a restaurant or movie theater, or gym.
Apparently, that was asking too much. Our TV's are saturated with scenes of crowded beaches and bars without a mask in sight. There are videos of "Karens" throwing temper tantrums because they are required to wear a mask in certain stores.
And now... Well, now we are no closer to flattening the curve, reducing cases, or creating safe environments for our fellow neighbors. This "me first", "me only", "I don't care" mentality has screwed things up for all of us. Numbers are spiking and there really is no end in sight.
And what's really shitty, is we could all play a part in kicking this virus in the ass, out of our communities, hospitals, and country. We're just not willing to do it.
Listen, I desperately want to "get back to normal" just like everyone else. I want to leisurely stroll my local farmer's market and eat out in a restaurant. I want my kids back in their classes this fall. I'd love for my friends to come over and hang out for a bonfire. But see, my husband has a respiratory condition, and I can't take the chance. So until this virus goes back to whichever block it wondered from, I'm afraid our house won't be coming out to play.
If you're married, or a parent, you understand this idea of sacrificial love. It's about putting someone else's needs in front of your own, and sacrificing a little bit of what you want and desire, for the health and well being of your family.
But sacrificial love isn't limited to family relationships. It can extend to co-workers, friends, neighbors, and those people that are marginalized in society. And we see it every day. Someone stays late to help a co-worker out, or helps a friend move, or mows a neighbor's lawn, or visits/feeds those that are home-bound or homeless.
We all have the capacity to sacrifice a little bit for the betterment of each other. This is why this refusal to simply wear a mask just leaves me utterly baffled and speechless.
The Great Mask Debate
I've heard many people argue they don't want to wear a mask for some of the following reasons below. Let me see if I can keep up.
"They are hard to breathe in." - I actually agree with this point. But the average person is not being asked to wear them for 8-10 hours a day. If you are a doctor, nurse, dentist, or now a teacher, that is different, because you are not only expected, but required, to wear a mask during your whole shift, for the protection of others, and yourself. I can't imagine one person telling his surgeon, "no, don't worry about washing your hands and wearing a mask while you're operating on me." So, thank you! I think I can do my part by wearing a mask for my "essential" run to Target or walking through a busy downtown on a date night.
"I shouldn't have to. It's an infringement on my rights." - We 'shouldn't have to' wear a seatbelt either, but we have "Click It or Ticket" laws to protect us. We have proven over and over again we are an adaptable society and can pivot to a new normal if our safety is on the line. I'd really hate the next catchy slogan to be "Mask It or Casket", which I've already heard, but it seems we are heading there nonetheless.
"Masks don't work." - Full disclosure, science wasn't my strong subject in school, so I rely on scientists and medical professionals to address this argument. While studies have conflicting data on how effective wearing a mask is, all agree there is effectiveness in wearing one. The prevailing opinion from the CDC and leading experts have all agreed that wearing masks can reduce the spread of this virus.
"I don't wanna wear one. They're uncomfortable." - In the early 1980s during the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, scientists once again provided medical evidence that showed wearing a condom could greatly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. Sales of condoms skyrocketed, not because they were comfortable or cool to wear, but because they provided protection both to the user and their partner. Are we seeing a pattern yet?
"If you're not comfortable going in public when people aren't wearing a mask, then just stay home." - This specific argument makes my blood boil. Because as much we want to make this an "us vs. them", "red vs. blue", "left vs. right" issue, it's just not. It never has been. This is not a testing issue, political statement, or media issue. Rather, this is a human decency issue; specifically, the unwillingness for humans to think about others first.
Leaving It All Right Here...
When I think about all the suffering our nation has already experienced, my head wants to explode. Let's just start with the loss of lives. That's horrible enough and should make every single American pause in their footsteps to contemplate this great tragedy. But then throw in the loss of jobs, closed businesses, canceled 'once in a lifetime events' like graduations and prom, delayed or restricted weddings, burying family members with a limited number of people that could attend a funeral, canceled sports, shows, and vacations...
Was it all for nothing? Was it all for NOTHING???
We are not better off now than we were 122 days ago. And why is that? No really. We need to ask ourselves, why is that?
I am so sad. No, I am furious and beyond frustrated. I. Am. So. Over. It.
Just wear the damn mask.