To listen to some people, the idea of being told to wear a mask in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic is something akin to being told to stand in a corner like some malcontent 5-year-old doing a timeout.
Can't make me. Nah, nah, nah, nahhh, nah.
Don't Tread on Me collides with the Golden Rule.
But the COVID-19 infection rate in the United States is spiking so badly right now that many state governments are requiring masks in businesses where people gather – like in restaurants – to help stem the wave of the rapidly spreading contagion while the state tries to reopen from its original stay-in-place order a month or so ago.
On Friday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper mandated that masks must be worn where six-foot social distancing is impossible. And, preferably, to wear masks in any social situation.
There's been some push-back. Some want Cooper to resign, some others want him impeached (even though several other states are also pausing in their reopening plans). All because he's trying to help keep you healthy. It's not like he's absconded with highway improvement funding or your mother's fine china. Sheesh.
The argument against wearing masks seems to be that wearing one is an infringement on our personal liberties. Well, so is wearing a seat belt. So is driving 80 miles an hour in a school zone. So is peeing on your neighbor's shoes. C'mon.
What seems to be lost in this argument is that this virus is particularly virulent and particularly insidious. It's not the flu. It's worse than the flu. Globally, the Rona has infected its 10 millionth person and claimed its 500,000th death today. In this country, we've surpassed 2.5 million infections and 125,000 deaths. All within four months. Last year, there were 60,000 deaths in this country due to the flu, for the entire year. Do the math.
There have been 87,000 new infections in this country in the last 48 hours.
Overall, those numbers could be on the conservative side. Some experts are suggesting the numbers could be anywhere form six percent to 24 percent higher.
And you really don't want to catch this thing. True, some people are asymptomatic. But others are susceptible. Everybody's different. If you do survive the virus (and odds are that you will), there's a chance you still could suffer lifelong lung scarring, liver damage, even brain damage.
But wearing – or not wearing – a mask has somehow become a political statement. If you don't wear a mask, you are supporting President Trump, who also isn't wearing a mask. If you do wear a mask, then you are one of the sheep following that fascist Dr. Fauci, or the Center for Disease Control, or any other health agency in the alphabet soup of responsible government. (By that logic, you are also a sheep if you follow Trump's example).
It's as if we've forgotten our high school biology. If a person is already contaminated, the virus can spread through microscopic droplets expelled from the mouth when talking, or through sneezing. Wearing a cloth mask helps capture the droplets, thus decreasing the chances of infecting someone else. Like a family member. Wearing a mask is an act of random kindness. Wearing a mask might have slowed the situation in which we now find ourselves.
On the local level, another argument I've seen is that while there is a Davidson County population of around 165,000, only 900 people have been infected. The part of the argument you don't hear is that while the county population basically remains the same day to day, the rate of infection is growing daily. A week ago, there were about 400 infections, and now there are 900, so the rate is growing, and probably exponentially. So now the question becomes, how many more people have to get sick before the maskless folks take this seriously?
And winter, with a potential second wave, is just months away.
This isn't that hard: Wear a damn mask.