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Merritt: Wearing a mask is not about sacrificing liberties, it’s about everyone’s survival | COMMENTARY

I don’t get it. Why NOT wear a mask?

Way before the reopening of businesses and during the onset of pandemic precautions, which included the wearing of masks, I went to the post office to mail a package. Securing my painfully handmade cover over my face, I stood inside the tape indicating six-foot distancing, and waited in line behind several other masked individuals.

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Suddenly, I heard the vocal ire of a woman who was well over the age of not knowing any better. As a masked post office employee — thankfully, behind his plastic barrier — waited on this barefaced individual, she spouted her indignation regarding her constitutional rights. While she ranted and raved, she most likely spewed spittle into the air and, hopefully, not onto us patrons whose right to be safe apparently had not entered her mind. I don’t get it.

From the very beginning, when Dr. Anthony Fauci shared his knowledge during daily news conferences of to-do’s and not-to-do’s concerning the coronavirus, he became the leader who informed us about the dangers of spreading COVID-19. He said that staying home when possible, washing hands, safe distancing and wearing masks are among the top priorities.

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It makes sense to me to heed the warnings of the government’s top infectious disease expert — in addition to those of many health experts. But, apparently, not everyone takes those warnings seriously.

Take for example, the governors who opened their states prematurely, understandably anxious to get their economies rolling. It was a gamble, but at what price? Those states are now suffering the consequences, as well as are others that have had a seesaw approach upon reopening, and then having to return to former mandates because of new outbreaks.

Look at Florida, where beaches drew hordes of unmasked young people during Memorial Day. Many of these same youths contracted the virus and quickly spread it elsewhere.

My grandson didn’t come home during spring break and is living with college friends in St. Augustine, Florida. With many stay-safe warnings from his mother and me, he assured us he was being cautious (of course) and then mentioned how no one around him was wearing a mask and that there were crowded beaches and bars everywhere.

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The teens’ devil-may-care attitude about their mortality is nothing new. What does surprise me, however, are the young and even older adults who — despite the scientific facts — complain about, and even refrain from, wearing masks.

“They’re uncomfortable.” “They’re hot.” “They make my ears stick out.” “I look like a robber.” “They impair my breathing.”

And the best one of all — a positive statement from the President who generally refuses to wear a mask. The Washington Post published his comments from an interview on Fox Business channel.

“I had a mask on. I sort of liked the way I looked. OK. I thought it was OK. It was a dark Black mask, and I thought it looked OK. It looked like the Lone Ranger.”

United States President Donald J.Trump arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit with wounded military members and front line coronavirus healthcare workers in Bethesda, Maryland on July 11,2020. This was the first time President Trump wore a mask in public since the Covid-19 pandemic began in February.
United States President Donald J.Trump arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit with wounded military members and front line coronavirus healthcare workers in Bethesda, Maryland on July 11,2020. This was the first time President Trump wore a mask in public since the Covid-19 pandemic began in February. (Chris Kleponis/Zuma Press/TNS)

He continued, “I have no problem with that, and if people feel good about it, they should do it.”

Recently, I was appalled when I read about a cartoon that had been published in a newspaper that criticized Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s order requiring people in her state to wear masks in public places and where social distancing was impossible. She was caricatured wearing a mask on which was the Star of David in a scene of people being herded onto a cattle car. A caption read, “Lockdown Laura says: Put on your mask … and step onto the cattle car.”

The gist was a political statement regarding government overreach. Why would masks become political fodder? I don’t get it.

The crowds across the nation that have demonstrated their support of opening their state said they wanted their liberties back. Those who are jobless, of course, want things to return to normal. But a large number of these people have been up in arms about having to be quarantined, wear masks, and being unable to vacation or go to their favorite restaurant. No wonder they complain; there are many, including myself, who have never had to make such sacrifices, let alone those made by a generation or more before us.

Generations following World War II never experienced the hardships of The Great Depression. We’ve basked in the liberties our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents made possible for us. Some of them have talked about things such as rationing, having one good dress or suit to wear for special occasions, never having had a vacation, never going out to a restaurant and, if lucky, having one Christmas present as a child. My grandparents even worried about using too much electricity and often sat in the dark. Strangely, they never seemed to regard any of these things as sacrifices. They worked hard like all of their neighbors in what was a necessary way of life.

As of this writing, there have been +59,785 new coronavirus cases a day (reported by https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus) with the possibility, according to Fauci, of climbing to 100,000 a day. The European Union has barred Americans from visiting their shores, as well as visitors from China, Russia, Brazil, India and other countries where infections have soared.

With infections rising rapidly in parts of the West and South, Fauci has been desperate to get his message out concerning the necessity of wearing masks in public and keeping out of crowds.

That, I get.

Dolly Merritt writes from Westminster. Her Prime column appears on the third Sunday of the month. Reach her at dolly827@hotmail.com.

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