The Unreliable Guide To…Face Masks
There has been a lot of controversy about the wearing of masks. I do understand, but if you think masks are uncomfortable, imagine being on a ventilator for three weeks. While public health experts, such as the World Health Organisation, can prove that masks help slow the spread of COVID-19, some people seem to see this as an attack on their civil liberties.
In the USA in May, an employee of the Michigan Family Dollar Store was shot dead for asking a customer to ensure her daughter complied with a statewide executive order and wear a mask before entering the store. In Australia, many doctors, such as Dr Norman Swan from the ABC’s excellent Coronacast, have been telling us for months that we should all be wearing masks whenever we are in a confined indoor situation. It’s good advice, but how many people have you seen wearing a mask today?
At the time of my writing – and I hope it’s changed by the time of publication – masks are a rarity in Sydney. Anyone wearing one is subject to suspicious glances and scrutiny, but never fear, The Unreliable Guide is here to show you how to wear your mask with pride.
Here’s the best theory about COVID-19: it is here, it does exist and no one planned it (unless you believe Mother Nature is sick of human beings polluting her planet and wants to get rid of us). 5G? That’ll just help your phone work better. At this moment it is pointless trying to find a reason why COVID-19 is here; we should focus instead on not catching it.
Keep socially distant when you can and wear a mask so you don’t go spreading it around. Masks are not the government’s way of turning us into identikit zombies; masks are symbols of rebels like V for Vendetta, Anonymous, Zoro, and the Lone Ranger. Oh, and if/when there’s finally an immunisation available, go and get it. No one is organised enough to try and track you with a microchip, and your life is not that fascinating anyway. This is not a science fiction movie, even if it feels like one. Use some common sense and don’t fret about rubbish when there’s plenty of real stuff to be getting on with.
Protests in the US
American protesters against the mandatory wearing of face masks in public have come up with the argument, “My body, my choice,” which kind of misses the point. Your mask won’t really keep you safe; your mask keeps me safe and my mask keeps you safe. We are working together to ensure each other’s health. When someone refuses to wear a mask they are not disregarding their health, they are disregarding yours.
This notion of individual discomfort to ensure community health could be why the public health order has been termed ‘communist’ by some. Americans value the protection of individual liberties above all else, take this quote from Max Parsell, a 29 year-old power-line worker in Jacksonville: “Making individual decisions is the American way.” America is the richest nation on earth, but the fact they currently have more infections and deaths than any other country suggests a new American way should be found, and quickly.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide thinks we need to reassess our attitude to this new plague that is proving to be nothing at all like a simple flu, but a far more pernicious and long-lasting affliction. If we are going to survive this we are going to need to work together, so next time you see someone wearing a mask give them the thumbs up, because they are doing it for you. You won’t be able to smile, obviously, because you’ll be wearing a mask too.