Wear a mask to defeat COVID-19

This week, I’m thinking aloud about what we’re all experiencing now. I’m solidly in the middle of my 80s, and in all those years have seen and lived through much, but this full-scale pandemic is a new experience. It was not, however, a stranger to my father, who was born in 1905 and was a young teen when the worldwide influenza plague struck full-force.
Years later, when he became a doctor, he began to research that experience, which had cost our country — both its people and its economy — so very much. His personal study led to some rather basic conclusions that our decision-makers today might do well to consider…
Most important: A plague has a life span of its own: It will live on until it can find no more victims, and then it will die of starvation. That means its life’s length is determined solely by the number of people it can infect.
This is at least as good as anything we’ve heard so far during our current experience and is certainly worth considering: People who do not follow essential health-promoting practices at this time are helping to keep the virus alive by enabling the victimization of others, and of themselves as well.
Grown men, jobless and desperate, sold apples on street corners during that long-ago pandemic, and — like my own grandfather — built makeshift coffins and dug graves for the lonely burials of their own dead. It was a rare family that didn’t lose at least one person as influenza raged on.
But finally, it was over. The hungry scourge had to be content with the huge number of victims it had already taken, simply because the people who were left were strong enough to resist. Its appetite was not to be satisfied any longer. With no more ready meals, the plague weakened and died, all by itself. And it was, as we’re already beginning to see now, the economy that suffered at least as much as — and in some cases, maybe even more than — those bereaved families. Loss of business was not the food that fed the virus, but it was a major aftereffect. If we cannot put a stop to the hungry coronavirus that is eating up our people, it will finally and fully consume our economy as well. Then we will have a situation to rival, or even exceed, what history still calls the Great Depression.
My father was well-educated and wise, and I was fortunate to learn much from him as I grew to adulthood. So, at this time, I can personally consider myself neither frightened nor foolish: I practice safe distancing both outside and inside, even in the latter where floors are not marked at six-foot intervals. And I wear a mask whenever I leave home. By now, everyone should know that wearing a mask is not optional. Yes, those who think it won’t help them are correct, because that mask was never intended to help the wearer — it helps everyone else! This means that non-wearers go about without masks that would protect others, while partaking themselves of the safety that the mask wearers are providing for them! This is not the time for such selfishness! Nobody should have to be prompted or reminded or convinced to wear a mask while keeping safe distance; by now, these behaviors should be automatic. Most certainly, nobody who wants to see our lives — both individual and economic — return to normal as quickly as possible should be so callous as to sabotage those efforts simply for personal, very selfish preferences and choices that go against all reason.
When I was a kid, we had a chant about a scary phantom that originated with the old Little Orphan Annie: “The bogeyman will getcha if you don’t watch out!” Today, that “bogeyman” is something very real: “Coronavirus will getcha if you don’t watch out!” Please! Don’t help the bogeyman that’s among us today to get you, or get any more of us!

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