Hint: Not on most people out in the streets (yet)…
I have seen the “wear a mask!”-trend at its infancy (the beginning of the spread of covid-19 beyond China), and I see it now. For the most part, I don’t think much has changed yet. People still look oddly towards any mouth-and-nose-cover that isn’t a standardised hospital-esque piece of special fabric, and most importantly, that’s word outside the hospital walls.
And I will admit that I was the first one to say “what bulls**t, I’m not wearing any masks, that’s overly dramatic”.
And even when my mum, a couple of weeks ago, asked if she should make me some masks and send them along like she was doing for my siblings at the time, I mostly just said “yes sure” to make her not feel like I was an ungrateful little child that left her nest too soon and calls too little. I digress.
And then the roads I usually take for my daily long walk became more crowded, and people acted like virus transmission through too-close proximity was a thing of the past. And I found myself waiting for, longing for that package with my mother’s self-made facemasks as if it was a free bathroom stall when you have a really full bladder.
I see the numbers on research about their effectiveness and recommended usage, and everything is conflicting. Yes, it has certain factors that seem to decrease transmission chances, whether you’re symptomatic or asymptomatic. Yes, it is recommended to do so in crowded places, or generally spaces you can’t adhere to the 1.5m/6f physical distancing rule. Is it really effective though? Numbers estimating its’ effectiveness really don’t cross the 40%-line of percentage of virus-ridden droplets it can keep with and away from yourself. That leaves a lot of chance to still get infected, even more of a chance in fact than to fail a class you study hard for and did well on pre-exam assignments on.
Chance, however, has a knack of just not being on most people’s side. Which is why I keep failing my statistics class even though I prepare well and have started acing the assignments. Murphy’s law I guess.
So even on that relatively small chance of the mask being useful in keeping the virus away from you, should you still invest in and start donning the masks that potentially make you look foolish, or in the case of my own self-made mask, like you could rob a bank like a ninja?
YES. Why? Because every little thing can add up to one bigger thing, one bigger chance, and it’s worth fighting for your health.
I’ll admit, I thought the masks were unnecessary and overly dramatic. But being in too many situations where I find myself yelling at a retreating-stranger’s back that there’s so much space on this road and to take it (instead of walking a mere hand-width from me), has left me feeling vulnerable. I don’t like feeling vulnerable. I prefer to be in charge of my own health and safety, than to hope on someone else to step in and provide it for me. And in these times, what will do that? Wearing a weird-looking cloth-mask in front of my mouth and nose….
And it’s easy. It’s quick. It’s flexible. You can make them yourself (like this is you have a sewing machine or like this is you don’t have any sewing materials, or if you want to use old clothes) or buy them online (if you want cool fabric or your own print) or in pharmacies (if you want the surgical looking ones). The thing is, just wear them please. It might be useless, it might be useful, but worst case scenario it does nothing to anyone, no harm no gain. Best case scenario, you protect yourself from getting it, and you protect the poor little kid that forgot (because they don’t quite understand why), and/or the nice older lady or man in your street from catching it from you. Even if you don’t feel sick, even if you don’t show symptoms. What’s the worst it can do to you?