You’re killing me. I’m not saying it’s intentional, but in the end, dead is dead. Many of you just don’t get it. After seven months and 220,000 dead Americans, nearly four times as many as we lost in Vietnam, I still hear people say they won’t wear a mask because they don’t care if they die. Well, I don’t care either, but I do care if you take my mother with you. Or my brother. Or me.
After all this time, and all this science, don’t you understand that this deadly virus spreads even when people are asymptomatic? So when you walk into a store unmasked, you don’t know who you might infect and in turn, who they might infect. You may never know who you’ve killed, but that doesn’t make you any less culpable.
When you chose to gather recklessly in large groups, you’re showing indifference and disdain for your community. That’s what you’re advertising when you walk into public places without a mask. You’re no hero. If you’re a CNA who goes bar-hopping with friends, you’re playing Russian roulette with those you’re supposed to care for. If you get sick, who are you bumping out of a hospital bed? A stroke or heart attack victim? A cancer patient? Think, people.
When you drag the virus into the workplace, you’re endangering your co-workers and the business. You bet this virus is killing our economy. Ignoring it isn’t the answer. Facing reality and being smart is. Even if you care more about the economy than people’s lives, the answer is the same. Wear a mask. The economy won’t thrive if people lack confidence and fear for their safety.
I get it. What should be a simple matter of medical science has become a political dividing line because of the unconscionable lack of leadership in this country. Masks work, imperfectly, yes, but they do make a difference. They do save lives. Maybe yours. Maybe your grandmother’s.
Still, even though North Dakota and South Dakota infection rates are the highest in the country and hospitals are filling up, our governors have failed to implement a mask mandate. It’s political malpractice. We’ll never know how many lives that will cost.
It’s science. Medicine. Logic. Doctors and nurses wear masks because they work. If you have an infection, you take antibiotics. If you have a pandemic, you wear a mask until there’s a vaccine. It will come, and this pandemic will pass, but in the meantime, we have to be patient and remember that our decisions have the potential to kill or save lives. There’s not one of you reading this who wouldn’t help a neighbor in need. That’s what this is about. Your neighbors.
I wore a mask into the drugstore recently — I was the only one in a mask except for the employees — and another customer opined that I must not have been “behaving” if I was wearing a mask. “No,” I said, “I just want to respect those come in contact with. Plus, there’s a sign on the door asking customers to wear masks.” Seriously, you won’t wear a mask to the pharmacy? Where do you think the sick people go?
I won’t stigmatize those who get this virus. I know victims who were very careful. It’s a sneaky, highly infectious disease. I’m certainly not batting 1.000. But I’m trying. And I take no satisfaction from those who behave recklessly and get infected. Even if this virus doesn’t kill you, it can devastate your organs and take years off your life.
Ironically, the most at risk to COVID-19 are the generations who sacrificed time and time again to build this nation, surviving depressions, recessions and fighting in wars. There was rationing. Uncertainty. Hunger. Poverty. And your message to them? “Stay home, if you’re scared Grandpa.” The grandpa that walked point in Vietnam. Or lost his buddies in Korea. No, Grandpa’s not scared. He just knows there’s a difference between stupidity and fearlessness. Guess which one describes you.
And wearing a mask is too much of a sacrifice for you, snowflake?
While we’re at it, let’s put to rest this whole “freedom” argument. Abraham Lincoln is credited (among others) with saying, “Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins.” Please, let’s just keep each other’s germs out of our respective noses.
If you still don’t want to wear a mask, fine. You stay home. You.
© Tony Bender, 2020
More than three years of Tony Bender columns are available with a subscription at www.mcintosh-star-tribune.com