Stop yelling; wear a mask


Owen Foster

In late August, a student from Lake County, Florida sits in frustration as you, unmasked, and most likely not vaccinated, step up to address the school board on masks. You start with obscenities and insults, eventually heaving yourself into a full-blown rant. Privilege and anger lace through your voice as you discuss the “unnecessary” nature of masks, and how masks are hurting you more than helping. 

   The student sits and thinks about you; your ever-flowing list of complaints about rules and masks. You don’t wear a mask or follow any other protocol set in place to fight COVID-19. You shouldn’t ever have a voice about public health and what people should be doing. 

   A quick search on Google can find research on the safety and importance of mask-wearing from the American Medical Association or the CDC. The facts are there showing the safety and efficacy of mask-wearing. Yet, here we are a year and a half later having to listen to the whining of you, who never followed any guideline to help stop the spread of COVID. Enough is enough. 

   As soon as everything started getting better, you would lose sight of the greater goal, acting as if normalcy resumed. The perpetual cycle of mandates, COVID numbers becoming better, defiance and numbers surging again, then falling back to stricter mandates continue today. The cycle will not be halted for the foreseeable future. 

   Anyone who tries their best to follow COVID guidelines has probably heard every excuse and complaint they can take with masks and new protocols. It honestly has become annoying and sad. You are so fed up with a life-saving measure, that you openly denounce it. Not thinking about those that are high-risk, or living with someone high-risk. You are more concerned with your selfish wants, rather than getting out of the pandemic. A hard reality, but a necessary realization. 

   The truth is, if you didn’t follow the COVID guidelines, don’t complain now. Your complaints are falling on deaf ears. You were unwilling to follow basic rules and regulations put in place to contain COVID-19. You failed on all fronts. 

   “I can’t breathe with a mask on.” Please save the drama. Some people have real health problems that make mask-wearing difficult. There have been numerous studies by the CDC and AMA on CO2 levels with masks. The studies show CO2 particles can pass through the mask easily due to their minuscule size. 

   Your “dizziness” is more likely from dehydration. Masks block the water droplets that carry the virus, not the CO2 you breathe out. They are safe and effective and are continually proven to be so. 

   Those that shouldn’t wear masks, according to the CDC guidance on masks, are children under two years old, those with serious health conditions, and those incapable of taking the mask off if need be. You are not two. You are or are almost adults. Start acting like one. 

   If you are still complaining, think about why you are. If your complaint is simply, “I don’t want to wear a mask”, or “the government can’t tell me what to do,” you have thinking to do. 

   For one, the government can tell you what to do. You adhere to road laws and speed limits. If you didn’t, you could be arrested or even put in jail. To go to school, you have to get certain vaccines. For example, polio, and measles vaccines. Taxes are required by the government. You can’t stop paying your taxes unless you want to face fines or jail time. 

   In addition, Research what the situation was like in hospitals during the height of the pandemic, and even right now. Look into personal accounts of the pain and trauma that comes with losing a loved one to COVID. If you still don’t care enough to put on a mask when you need to, stop complaining, you seem to not care about anything; don’t care now. 

   Remember, the death toll daily nationwide still sits at around 2000 or more deaths a day. 2000 people a day whose families won’t be able to hug them again, talk to them. 2000 people robbed of their lives by misinformation and people not caring enough to follow a few rules. 

   These statistics could eventually include your grandparents, parents, and even siblings if COVID continues to spread. Not even mentioning the possibility of new COVID mutations, like the Delta Variant, that could become more lethal due to people still letting COVID run rampant, along the way developing immunity to new treatments like the vaccines. 

   But when the pandemic started, you had your own selfish intentions. You chose to hang out with friends, or go to a party that became a super-spreader. You chose to attend the anti-mask rally that defied guidelines helping bring the pandemic to an end. 

   Your choice has been made. You chose to continue the pandemic when there was a real opportunity to contain and control COVID to a point where life could return to normal. 

   People who want to follow the rules and help fight the pandemic must now take risks that can help resemble some normalcy in their lives. These could be sports practices and events, family get-togethers, holidays, etc. 

   If everything was done to contain COVID, these activities would never be liabilities. Now, there’s always fear that getting together with family could mean a grandparent being unknowingly infected, and ending up in an ICU on a ventilator. Being to the point where doctors don’t know if they will survive the night. You put them in this situation, and it will be you who has blood on your hands. 

   Some kids can play sports again but are being derailed from achieving their goals due to preventable outbreaks on the team. Forever having an asterisk on that season, not ever knowing what the outcome could have been. Your selfish action may benefit you, but everyone else continues to suffer from your inaction. 

   The grumblings of having to wear masks still repeat. Ranting on how the pandemic never seems to end. Sadly, the pandemic won’t end. That is until you listen to science. Until you own up to your part in continuing the COVID pandemic. Until you stop complaining and do something beneficial in stopping COVID in its tracks. Until then, nothing will change. 

   But change doesn’t seem likely, as the world has seen recently with global climate change. People gripe about the issue and claim they will do something. But when push comes to shove, we cannot adapt. Instead, we complain.