Saturday, May 15, 2021

Letting those masks down, at least a little

Did a little grocery shopping yesterday --- without wearing a mask. And it felt good. No matter how often I've put one of those things on during the last year, I'm still claustrophobic and have to remind myself that, yes, I still can breathe and, no, a panic attack is unnecessary. 

Actually, I'd made a quick maskless trip into and out of the store a day earlier --- before the new CDC guidelines were released. I'd loaded a big plant into a cart and was trying to push it inside and put on my mask at the same time when the strap snapped.

And then there was the pre-graduation reception last weekend. It was held in a big venue with plenty of space to social distance, but the return-to-normalcy ordinariness of the event undid me. Preoccupied with getting a card ready and getting there, I didn't realize I wasn't wearing a mask (and didn't have one in my pocket) until I'd been there a few minutes.

I'll be happy to continue wearing a mask when asked or required or it seems wise to do so, recalling that many have not yet gotten their shots and that many others, apparently, will decline to do so. You'd really like to slap those in the latter category up the side of the head and ask, "What are you thinking, fool?"

And there are all sorts of other considerations. The virus continues to rage elsewhere in the world and new variants will arrive here. We don't know how long the vaccines we've received will be effective. And those who have not been immunized remain a threat to each other. It will be interesting to watch the infection rate now that masking recommendations have been revised.

Despite the revised recommendations, businesses, public offices, health-care institutions and many other agencies and/or institutions and organizations have every right in the world to demand that you put on a mask before entering. So get over yourself if you think your rights to infect are being infringed upon. And employers certainly can demand that new hires get their shots.

Don't expect to travel far outside the United States until the rest of the world has an adequate supply of vaccines --- and even then proof of immunization (or extensive testing and perhaps quarantines) most likely will be required. That's among the reasons why some sort of "passport" is not a threat but instead would be a useful tool in the worldwide community.

We've learned a lot about communicable diseases during the last year --- and about ourselves as citizens of a state, a nation and the world. Some of it hasn't been especially attractive.

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