To mask, or not to mask - The Orca
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To mask, or not to mask

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Jody Vance: Nobody is forcing you to wear a mask. But if it reduces risk for you and others…is it really such a big deal?

It is mind-boggling how much misinformation continues to float around about COVID-19.  This week, it’s all about masks.

Never mind a US president never seen wearing one, or Toronto’s mayor wearing one incorrectly in a packed park. Here in BC, I did a double take at how downright angry some Canadians seem to be at the mere suggestion they wear a mask.

“It’s an infringement on personal freedoms!” No, it is not. Never has it been an order to wear masks here. Ever.

My efforts to articulate my feelings on masks went nowhere. But I found something that resonated deeply with me. Actor Dan Levy – yes, that Dan Levy from Schitt’s Creek – posted this on his social media, hitting the proverbial nail on the head. I highly encourage a full viewing.

In short, Dan says wearing a mask is the “simplest, easiest act of kindness that you can do in a day, not just for yourself, but for other people.” It’s one minute that will clear up any fuzziness you may have.

I get it – this is hard. These days, we’re all up to our eyeballs in what we can’t do. People are searching for any outlet for their frustrations – but being mad at those asking you to wear a mask where physical distancing is difficult is just plain wrong.

The overarching argument made in support of the misplaced outrages is that health officials didn’t suggest Canadians wear them from the get-go, then pivoted to asking masks be worn to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

This is where the “Be Calm” mantra of BC’s Provincial Health Officer really comes into play…and where we find our Middle.

Consider the fact that Dr. Bonnie Henry has from the very beginning maintained that masks worn correctly can protect others from your droplets. She would almost always add that an improperly worn mask can actually increase the risk of COVID-19.

Novice mask wearers often have contact contamination issues, or constantly adjusting it — thus touching their face with unwashed hands, and going against basic health directives of “wash hands and avoid touching your face.”

It’s also worth remembering that in mid-March, masks of any kind were more rare than toilet paper. Directing Canadians to rush to purchase any masks might (probably) have seen medical grade PPE diverted to the general public, a waste of what could be a lifesaving piece of equipment for healthcare workers.

These very early days of a Novel Coronavirus Pandemic requires a collective hive mind, if you will. We all need to calm our want to lash out. Be kind to our very human health officials, and each other.

Stick to what we know: wash hands, avoid touching our faces. Stay home and isolated if sick. Keep your bubble tight, just those who live in your home, or a chosen few to see with strict physical distancing. Stay two meters apart, preferably outdoors — preferably moving (walking, biking, etc.). Stay fit, move, then…if you can…stay home.

This list is ever-evolving. And now one more simple ask is being added: whenever physical distancing is not possible, try to wear a mask or face covering to keep your droplets to yourself.

Again: no one is forcing you to wear a mask. No one.

There will likely be places you might wish to go to where masks will be mandatory for entry. Companies have the right to require such things from their patrons. See also: “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Not infringing on rights, so much as exercising one.

Back to the swampy mis-information. Please, when next you read a headline that peaks your frustration to new heights, flatten that curve. Visit BCCDC.ca or gov.bc.ca for the real goods on what restrictions have been put in place.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

SWIM ON:

SWIM ON