To Mask Or Not To Mask – That Is The Political Question

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To Mask Or Not To Mask – That Is The Political Question

“Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show each other who we are.” Christopher Barzak

i was unprepared for the quarantine. I was still packing the weekend before for a trip to Arizona. Yes, we were in the empty market and getting help from more prepared friends and family.

But what I did have were masks. I am allergic to smoke and pollution. I have always been told that masks won’t save me around a fire because the particles of smoke are too small and get through the masks.

The only thing paper masks are protection for, the doctors would tell me, are germs. That is why doctors wear them. I still have them because they are a line of defense against smokers and pollution. I have different kinds, including N95, in the hopes that someone invents something besides a gas mask that will work for me. It looks like, I have been preparing my whole life for this virus.

If  you have a cold or allergies in Japan, you wear a mask so you don’t pass it on to other people. I was there during the bird flu scare and everyone wore masks. There were no laws or fines, you just put on a mask out of of respect for yourself and others

. I didn’t get the bird flu nor did a lot of people because everyone was taking precautions. (They did kill a lot of birds.) I’ve seen first hand that masks work.

Trump doesn’t wear a mask. He gets tested every day for the virus and it is a test where he gets the results quickly. We had to wait several days for results when we needed testing. I’m sure there is a ventilator and a doctor on call at the White House should something happen. He does not have to worry, as most people do, if there is room in a hospital for him should he need that.

Now he is taking hydroquinine preventively. My chemical and smoke sensitivities are autoimmune related. My doctor recommended hydroquinine.  He said it had a 10 or 20 per cent chance of working on what I have and I had to be on it for a year to see if it worked. I got some more medical opinions. I decided the odds were too low and the side effects too many to be on it for a year. Hydroquinine is also a malaria drug. The fact that the president would take a strong immune illness drug with side effects, that might work in case he gets the virus, instead of suggesting masks is crazy to me.

The beach near where I live opened last week. Three quarters of the people who come here are not wearing masks. It feels unsafe to me now on the weekends so I don’t go out.

It is frustrating because most of the people don’t live here and may behave differently in their own neighborhoods. I’m sure they put on masks if they visit their parents.  They are biking and jogging, not wearing shirts and sweating. The bikers are not social distancing.

On the beach they run in and out of the water unaware of people walking by. It certainly does not appear to be as mandatory here as other parts of LA..

The mask is being seen as a symbol of blindly submitting to government authority or taking a political stance to some, and a sign of safety and compassion to others. It seems to be about people’s age and individual tolerance of risk. Since we don’t know if we are carrying the virus and we don’t know what immune deficiencies other people have, why is it so difficult for Americans in this unprecedented time, to behave with politeness and kindness towards others and wear a mask?  We all want this to be over.

Stay safe,
JAZ