I’m putting this out there because it needs to be said. I can see that as a chronically ill person and someone who is #HighRiskCovid19, as the world opens up, mine will be getting smaller. I’m seeing pictures of people on Facebook unmasked in bars and crowds. I guess even going to some peoples’ houses will be off limits because of the number of places they’ve been and the number of people they’ve been around, unmasked.
Just remember, this isn’t about you. I wear a mask for myself, but I also wear it because I would never want to be that person that is unknowingly sick and gets someone else sick. I care enough about other people to wear a damn mask. I read something that said if you are refusing to wear a mask and you think Black Lives Matter, think again, since COVID is hitting Black communities worse than many other groups. So if you really think Black Lives Matter, show it by wearing a mask.
I know that America is built on the ideal of individualism. And clearly, this ideal may lead to the downfall of America. Rather than think of wearing a mask as a threat to your own freedom, why don’t you think of it as a sign of solidarity and respect to wear a mask? I’m not telling anyone how to live their life, but I’m telling you how I’m going to be living mine. Because rather than go to the bar or eat in a restaurant, all I want to do is see my family and close friends. My sister is moving to another state and I’ve barely gotten to spend any time with her in the last three months due to COVID and that absolutely sucks. I think you’ll survive some missed nights out at the bar. I’ll never get back missed time with the people I love, and given what happened to my dad, I know how precious time is.
So for now, I guess my trips to the grocery store every other week will continue to be my main mode of excitement for the foreseeable future. And if I get invited somewhere, it’s likely my declinations will become more frequent. With chronic illness, it’s always a possibility that I’ll have to decline invitations and cancel plans at the last minute, but as much of a pain as that was, it was on my terms. It’s because I didn’t feel well or was in too much pain to partake in an activity. Now, I will be doing this for reasons external to me. I will being doing it because a friendly invitation will be sidetracked by concerns over where you’ve been or who you’ve been in contact with because you’ve established a pattern of behavior that proves who and what you care about, and it’s clearly not me or anyone else.
I’ve seen a lot on social media of people with Cystic Fibrosis posting pictures wearing masks and a pulse ox, and showing that their oxygen levels are fine, so yours should be too. I’ve also seen the fake card that was created by people trying to exploit the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by claiming they have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask. If that’s true, don’t wear a mask, but if you’re making stuff up, wear a mask. It’s that simple.
Wearing a mask could mean the difference between quarantine ending and life slowly returning to whatever the post-COVID “new normal” will be. Not wearing a mask could mean continued, unfettered spread, another round or multiple rounds of full lock down, and more deaths.
If you’re not wearing a mask simply because you don’t feel like it, or you think rules don’t matter for you, or you feel that wearing a mask is an affront to your freedom of expression, remember this moment. Remember when you were called on to do something for someone else and instead you put your own needs above everyone else’s. Remember when you decided that a night at the bar was more important than the lives of anyone you may come into contact with. Remember that thinking you don’t have to wear a mask because I will is inherently ableist. And remember that not wearing a mask flies in the face of Black Lives Matter.
In a nod to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, maybe you couldn’t “Fix The Damn Roads,” but maybe everyone can learn to “Wear A Damn Mask.”
(And I know someone will say that I was unmasked in the picture I posted on Facebook with my husband wearing our Jews For Black Lives shirts. True. But I was outside and the only other person there, who took the picture, was my brother-in-law. We took our masks off, more than six feet away from him, he took the picture, and we put our masks back on.)