There are two basic reasons why it’s especially important, as the pandemic rages, to wear a face mask in public and indoor gatherings: it protects others from the possibility of your having Covid, and new evidence indicates that it protects you, too, from getting the deadly virus. Covid spreads by vaporized, exhaled droplets. Masks stop the spread.
As the weather gets colder here in Massachusetts, however, I’m discovering another plus for mask-wearing: it keeps my face warmer. Since I dislike the way it causes my glasses to steam up, I’m experimenting with leaving my glasses at home when I do my neighborhood stroll. I’m not so near-sided that this is a safety risk.
With some scarring on my lungs due to scleroderma, the mask can affect my breathing. So, if there is no one else around, I’ll tuck it under my nose so I can breathe more easily. Then if I meet someone along my route, I just pop it back in place.
I look forward to the day when we can dispense with masks. But even with the promise of powerful vaccines on the horizon, even knowing that those of us with compromised immune systems will likely be among the first to get the vaccine, I am resigned to the fact that we’ll still be wearing masks for many months to come. So I’ll focus on the added advantage of staying warm, and just deal.
As I was reminded recently, seat belts were considered an imposition and violation of civil liberties, too, when they became mandatory in all new U.S. vehicles in 1968. I can still vaguely recall how strange and restricting it felt when we had to begin using them. Now most wouldn’t think of driving without them, because seat belts save lives.
So do masks.
Image: United Nations graphic created by Laura Makaltses