There’s a wrong way to be independent
Not a lot of people know I used to be a registered Republican.
Yup. When I was in medical school at UC Irvine in the late 1980’s, I realized that in Orange County, a Republican was always going to win the local election for the U. S. House of Representatives. A (Republican) friend of mine was running for the seat and I wanted to be able to vote for him. At that time, you could only vote within the party you were registered for.
Here we are more than three decades later, with a lot of political water under the bridge since then. Here we are in a pandemic.
Independence Day 2020 is witnessing many people asserting their independence by NOT wearing a mask.
Do they stop at red lights?
I am not an expert on constitutional law, so I am going to speak from my point of view as a doctor, and as a member of American society.
We give up certain personal freedoms in order to maintain a society that works for everyone.
My mask is to protect you. Your mask is to protect me.
I’m not talking about PPE here. Health workers on the front lines may be exposed to a high viral load, and therefore need PPE to stay safe as they perform their jobs. They need more than the cloth masks I have in my purse.
You can read the scientific data on cloth masks. You will see the micron measurements of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and you will learn that it is way smaller than the pore size of any type of regular cloth.
So why bother wearing a cloth mask? Here’s why:
Cloth masks lower the spread of droplets which carry the virus.
If you and I both wear a mask that lowers droplet spread by a third, then together we have lowered droplet sharing between us by more than half (multiply 2/3 times 2/3). Keep multiplying this by everyone who is out and about AND is wearing a mask.
When we all “agree” to stop at red lights, we are all safer. The same is true for wearing masks. Of any kind.
I probably should not be so shocked by how many people right now are arguing against wearing a mask out in public.
But this is not a matter of understanding science.
Maybe it is a matter of trusting science, or at least math.
I think it is simply a matter of common sense.
And of basic caring for each other, or at least looking out for each other.
Looking out for store workers who interact with many people throughout the day. They do not have the choice of staying away from people. WE protect THEM by wearing a cloth of some kind over our noses and mouths.
Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, or any other political leaning, our Pledge of Allegiance ends with “liberty and justice for all.”
As we celebrate our American freedoms this year on this July 4th, I am realizing, and hoping that many more Americans will soon realize, that even if wearing a mask limits individual “liberty”, it moves us towards the ideal of “justice for all.”