With another Life during quarantine playlist, Nick Triani discusses the wearing of face masks.
To wear or not to wear
It’s amazing how history repeats itself. This isn’t the first time that confusion has arisen as to the appropriateness of mask wearing. As Christine Hauser reported in the New York Times this week, when the 1918 flu pandemic raged through the USA, masks were “…called muzzles, germ shields and dirt traps. They gave people a “pig-like snout.” Some people snipped holes in their masks to smoke cigars. Others fastened them to dogs in mockery. Bandits used them to rob banks.”
Reading on through Hauser’s article, the parallels with opposition to mask wearing in 2020 are ridiculously familiar. They even had an anti-mask wearing league back in the day. Of course, the effectiveness of those masks from 1918 are hard to gauge. We do know in 2020 of the 19 countries that have made the wearing of masks in public compulsory over the last month, the spreading of coronavirus has fallen by 40% compared to those countries that haven’t introduced mask wearing as a rule.
Cautious is best
But vanity sure is strange. Of course we know this is why Donald Trump wouldn’t wear a mask at first – it was an affront to his virility and manhood. It took the US President over a hundred thousand deaths of the people he leads before he realised mask wearing may save lives.
And what do we make of those Finns returning from holidays abroad and refusing to be tested for Covid-19 on arrival at the airport? I wonder what level of dumb and dumber we’re at. They probably also refuse to wear a mask in public (and let’s not even expect a period of quarantine like their supposed to from these people.) The last peak of the virus back in spring came from those returning from abroad by the way (doh!)
It’s the classic couldn’t-happen-to-me syndrome. Well guess what? Shit happens. There is a hope against hope that the lockdown is permanently over and the old normal is around the corner. For that to happen, we need that collective responsibility that was so admirable up to a month or so ago. Wash your hands, social distance and wear a mask. It’s not too much of a sacrifice when lives and livelihoods are at stake. We’re living it large right now one could say, making the most of the limited impact at this time of coronavirus on Finnish shores. At least in comparison to the rest of Western civilization.
The masked avenger
Perhaps this is where we need our imaginations. As I’ve noticed this past week, my family and I are the only people wearing masks in our local supermarket. We are amongst a select few on public transport wearing masks. This means we’re sparing people from our germs, but we’re not being spared from theirs.
But I can use my new found mask wearing anonymity to also play out my superhero fantasies. This mask wearing disguises much; most of my features and my expression thus muting my conversation. The mask also, might, just save my life and yours.
Nick Triani is an editor and contributor to One Quart Magazine.