Thank You For Masking

“How have you been?” It’s a more sincerely asked question these days, when we happen to meet people we know. “Fine. Thanks for asking” is the hoped-for response during the COVID-19 epidemic.

It would be nice if we’d hear more of something like, “Fine. Thanks for masking.”

After being shut down for about two months, the Ohio Valley Mall reopened last Tuesday. It was good to read that more shoppers than expected went there.

Even more gratifying was the report that about half of them were wearing face masks. Good for you, folks. If store owners and managers could afford it — which they can’t after being closed for so long — I’m certain some of them would offer discounts to customers wearing masks.

Here’s the thing: If we’re not careful, COVID-19 will come back like a bad dream. People we know will die. The business sector will have to be shut down again. Next time around, there will be even more layoffs. Some of them will be permanent.

Government can’t prevent a resurgence of the disease. That’s up to us. It would be a good time to resurrect the old Smokey Bear public service ads, but with a twist: Only you can prevent COVID-19.

It’s true.

One thing we know about the disease is that the coronavirus has infected millions of people who don’t know they carry it. They are what scientists call “asymptomatic,” meaning they carry COVID-19 but show few, if any symptoms. That makes them very effective in infecting others.

Scientists warn us masks are not good safeguards against catching COVID-19 — though common sense tells us they’re a whole lot better than nothing.

Masks are an effective way to keep from keeping your coronavirus particles from getting to other people, however. With a mask, those tiny liquid droplets you spew out every time you talk or even breath are stopped half an inch from your mouth or nose. Without a mask, they can travel many feet — to be inhaled unknowingly by someone who may be highly susceptible to the disease.

So wearing a mask is protecting the people around you. No doubt, many of them are silently grateful. Some may even mutter “thanks” behind their own masks.

The more of us who don masks when we venture into public places, the more likely we are to whip COVID-19 — and the sooner a day will arrive when we can all throw our masks away.

But, you say, I’ll look stupid in a mask. Worse than you’ll look when you learn someone you know is in the hospital with COVID-19 — and you wonder whether he or she caught it from you?

Thanks for masking.

Reach Myer at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.


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