(comment on Scough Facebook Page)
If you’ve commented something like this, keep reading. We get it — you hate masks. You might think they’re stupid, ineffective, ugly, uncomfortable, unnecessary, or impinge your freedom. Bottom line is: you don’t wear them and we’re asking you to hear us out.
First, we want to take a moment to recognize what mask wearers and non-mask wearers agree about. Namely, this year has been horrendous, we wish the pandemic could just go away too. We don’t want to stay locked in our homes unable to go out in the world, we want to see our family and friends, eat in restaurants, drink in bars, and watch the Super Bowl together. It’s easier to understand people without masks, it’s more rewarding and comfortable to have a conversation with someone when you can see their face. Last year, people had to cancel major life events like weddings, graduations and birthday parties.
What’s even more heartbreaking is not being able to visit a loved one in the nursing home or hospital when you want nothing more than to be by their side. We watched at least 150,000 small businesses close permanently, millions of people lose their jobs, go into debt, and stop paying their bills. It was gut-wrenching. This year has drastically changed the course of all our lives.
But beyond all these issues, what the pandemic has brought is death. More than 3,000 people died in the United States on Wednesdayーthe first time that threshold has been crossed this yearーand the numbers are growing. Over 370,000 people have died since the pandemic’s start and these cases are not only specific to the West and Northeast. Over 80,000 have occurred in the American Midwest and 129,000 in the South, making up over half the death toll. Tragically, thousands may still die.
Think about how high those numbers are. More people are predicted to die every day from COVID-19 than on 9/11 for at least the first few months of 2021. Every death affects dozens or hundreds of peopleーpeople who had friends and families that loved themーtens of millions of Americans have been grieving and will continue to grieve. If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one before, you know how tragic it is. Some patients are dying alone unable to spend their final hours with their loved ones. Now, imagine not even being able to hold a proper funeral. Ask yourself if there’s been enough pain already.
We know you might think masks don’t work, and granted, there was a lot of confusion on their effectiveness. In February and March last year, the surgeon general and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said not to wear them, however they reversed their decision for multiple reasons. The point is that science is constantly evolving. Copious research was conducted to understand the effects of the virus, then more for disease prevention. We know masks work — there is no debate anymore.
The virus doesn’t care about your political beliefs, it affects everyone, and we know changing your behavior drastically is difficult. Most of us haven’t lived through anything like this and we’ve all had to make sacrifices willingly and unwillingly. We know the lockdowns haven’t always made sense: rules vary from state to state and county to county, they can be hard to keep up with. Right now we’re in a state of emergency, whether you’re from the smallest town or the biggest city, your actions matter. Forget about the politics and rules, think of your family and neighbors. What can you do to make sure they stay alive?
Then there are the health care workers under immense stress. They are constantly working to save lives and witnessing death without the space or time to properly process the trauma they are going through. The truth is, the pandemic is worsening. Hospitals across the country are nearing capacity, which will put an even greater stress on health care workers and the general public. Some patients will not receive as much attention as they need, they might even be transported to another hospital miles away because space is limited. Others may not be helped at all, EMTs in Los Angeles have been instructed to leave behind patients with little chance of survival because their hospitals cannot extend any more resources. If the pandemic intensifies further, this could be standard procedure across the country.
We may come from different states and have differing opinions, but we all live in the United States and now more than ever, we need to depend on one another. The truth is our people are suffering and dying, and there is something you can choose to do about it. It won’t undo the pain we’ve gone through, but wearing a mask just may save one person’s life.