Yes, I know what I'm opening myself up to by writing this column. I know that in our reflexive, reactionary, hypersensitive, everyone-must-be-assigned-a-tribe culture, just asking what you believe to be are reasonable questions gets you branded and pigeonholed for life. So be it.
I'm not an anti-masker. I live in Indiana and am more than happy to strap that little face-diaper on when I'm getting out of my car in the morning to walk into work. The winter wind can be brutal, and it's crazy how much happier I am starting my day with a jaw that isn't frozen shut. Besides that, I have no issue with taking precautions that allow me to continue going to work, keep people healthy, and make my coworkers more at ease. In my mind, it's not a huge price to pay.
But that doesn't mean I don't have questions. The inconsistency of the rules makes this all seem like grand theater:
- If masks slow the spread of COVID-19, they should ostensibly also slow the spread of seasonal influenza. Why then, would we not require and mandate the wearing of masks permanently? Are we suggesting that those who contract and die from the flu aren't as valuable to us as those who contract and die from COVID-19? The number of deaths may be smaller, but those are still human lives that are precious. What is the justification for not imposing permanent mask-wearing mandates if it could "save just one life?" What's the distinction?
- I announce the home football games for the high school where I teach. Players on the field pant, spit, sneeze, wrestle, sweat, and bleed all over one another throughout the game. When they jog to the sideline they are required to put on a mask. Come on.
- I go to a restaurant. I open the door and put my mask on to walk 30 feet across the room to my table where I then remove the mask for the duration of the meal. I then put my mask back on to walk 30 feet to the door. Huh?
- I'm told that virus spikes occurring despite mask mandates are due to the fact that not everyone is complying. If people would follow the mandates, they say, the spikes would not occur. So then, let's take Santa Clara County in California. Is this what I'm to understand:
I know I'm coming across as sarcastically skeptical, but I'm sincerely asking for an explanation. I readily admit I am not an infectious disease specialist or a virologist. But I do look at this and wonder if it wouldn't make more sense to see in this chart a viral spread of a contagion that is highly communicable and nearly impossible to stop. A flu on steroids.
- I live in a state that has a mask mandate but allows for far more flexibility than many other states. The spread in my state is exponentially lower than the spread taking place in states that have enacted some of the most rigid distancing and mask-wearing mandates, including punitive consequences for disobedience. Again, doesn't that seem to indicate a virus spreading regionally as it will, despite mitigation efforts?
I don't mean to be a contrarian, and I certainly don't aim to put anyone in harm's way. But I think we need to start asking these questions particularly in light of announcements like this:
Believe it or not, I'm not ignorant of the logic that the medical professionals are using with this declaration. And I don't believe they are part of some nefarious, deep-state cabal seeking to control and manipulate the masses.
No vaccine is 100% effective, many times they don't offer immediate protection, and they may not protect against every mutated strain of the COVID-19 virus. I understand. But what I need someone to explain to me – to all of us – is how this doesn't portend a permanent, perpetual, unending social-distancing, mask-mandating future for us all?
COVID-19 isn't going away. Like all viruses, it will mutate and continue to spread in waves, perhaps seasonally. So, if masks are required now in order to be considered a loving, humane, charitable member of society, how will that not be the case next month, or next year? What's the end game here?
I know for some it's blasphemous to ask these questions. They say doing so means you "don't trust the science." Nonsense. I just want some answers.