Scoot: Confessions of a social-distancing masker!

face mask
Photo credit pinkomelet/Getty Images

I have been wearing a mask in public places from the very beginnings of the pandemic, and there is no information right now that does not support the importance of wearing a mask. I also know a mask does not guarantee that I won’t get the coronavirus.

At the onset of the reality that COVID-19 was spreading in America, Dr.
Anthony Fauci, along with other doctors, dismissed wearing masks as an effective deterrent to slowing the spread of the disease. In an early interview with New Orleans Dr. MarkAllen Dery, Dr. Dery answered my question about the importance of everyone wearing masks by saying that masks are not effective and since the COVID-19 virus is so tiny - wearing a mask is like putting up “a chain link fence to stop flood waters.”

The instant visual created by that metaphor sent a clear signal that masks would not protect anyone from getting the coronavirus. But it was not long before Dr. Dery, Dr. Fauci and others reversed their professional opinions on the effectiveness of wearing masks to slow the spread. We should never underestimate that COVID-19 was brand new to medical professionals and scientists. Much was unknown about the disease. As more was learned, doctors and scientists were willing to admit they were wrong and that wearing a mask would reduce the spread of the disease throughout the country.

Anti-maskers use the earliest opinions of medical and health professionals as gospel and denounce the revised opinions that wearing masks is essential in slowing the spread.

What I find interesting about the anti-maskers is that they accept revisions on matters when the revisions fit their beliefs. In the medical and health communities, new information is always being discovered about how to treat diseases; and a change in opinions regarding the evolving knowledge of the human body should never be equated with blatant hypocrisy. Yet anti-maskers continue to call into my radio talk show and say that masks do not work and even that Dr. Fauci supports that view. Not true anymore.

While I wear a mask and continue to promote wearing masks in public places as an effective way to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has now contributed to the deaths of over 200,000 Americans, I know I am not 100% protected. I know people who wore masks and still got the disease, but that does not taint the conventional wisdom among many in the medical and health communities that wearing masks is important.

The vicious debate over whether or not to wear masks is a microcosm of the great divide in America. Each side believes it is right and violence has erupted in countless situations over this debate.

As a social-distancing masker, I confess that I wear a mask and I am convinced that I am contributing to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

I practice social distancing, but I also see many mass gatherings that I cannot guarantee will result in communal spread.

I understand the entertainment value of the conflict over mask-wearing, but I think we need to stop and realize that it need not be so vicious. I have sound reasons for wearing a mask while many others believe they are right in not wearing masks.

Would it be nice if we could act like Americans first and not be so quick to define ourselves as maskers or anti-maskers?

The coronavirus is still a new disease, and we should not allow the debate over wearing or not wearing a mask to contribute to the divide in America that other nations are celebrating.