“If You Wear A Mask Long Enough You Begin To Forget Who You Are Beneath It.”– Alan Moore
I don’t have cable, nor do I watch the news or carry any subscriptions. I’ve recently taken to listening to morning news radio when bringing Nathan to school so that I won’t be completely in the dark with what’s happening in the world. And it’s a little difficult to avoid writing about issues surrounding COVID-19, considering we all get slapped in the face with it on a daily basis. Literally.
With this clever pun, I refer to the wearing of face coverings or masks. Although I’m uncertain about the state of this requirement around the rest of the world, many if not most Canadian Provinces have made the wearing of a mask or facial covering mandatory by law in public places, with Saskatchewan being no exception. In fact, facial masks have, until recently, been required on a location-by-location basis, being entirely dependant on the business itself to impose the wearing of the mask.
Most Provinces have legislated the wearing of facial coverings or masks with heavy monetary fines imposed on those who are caught without them. In Saskatchewan, fines ranging as high as $2,000 plus surcharges were imposed on the participant of a protest against the wearing of masks, which took place in Saskatoon (Star Phoenix). This isn’t something new, although most of Canada is starting to jump on the “mandatory” bandwagon for any towns or cities with a population higher than 5,000 people.
There’s a growing number of people with some very strange ideas and concepts related to COVID-19 and face masks… It isn’t all that surprising, since even the most common sense of concepts are often met with conspiracy theorists and the typical bullshit that people try to come up with, either due to ignorance or mental health issues. It’s a bit like trying to convince people the Earth isn’t flat. It doesn’t matter how many scientifically-proven reasons are given, these folks are still stupid enough to think the planet is a flat disc.
Sometimes, there’s just no convincing some people. And that’s fine! People are entitled to their opinions, so long as it doesn’t endanger others. And this happens to be the category we fall under, when it comes to wearing masks. I could spout the information that’s basically become general knowledge by this point, wearing the mask is more about protecting the population than the one person, it prevents spread by blocking virus droplets, it isn’t a substitute for social distancing… blah, blah, blah!
We’ve heard all of this stuff on a weekly basis for the past eight months, so I won’t regurgitate it. What I AM going to do, is discuss some specifics about the proper wearing of a mask. Take these for grain of salt and I encourage you to do your own research if you have any doubts. So long as you do your research somewhere reputable like the World Health Organization or Health Canada. If you get your information from The Onion, then I can’t help you…
First and foremost, cloth masks are just fine. As long as you ensure that they contain two or three layers and are made of a tightly-woven but breathable fabric such as cotton, you’re good to go. You shouldn’t wear masks that have exhalation valves, as these are designed to prevent particles from coming in and may not stop them from going out. This means you may inadvertently be spreading the virus, should you happen to be a carrier who doesn’t show symptoms.
Try to avoid solid or non-breathable materials like leather or plastic. Masks with a clear, plastic window are all the rage right now with people believing they’re great for allowing people to see each other’s smiles and facial expressions. But realistically, they just make it much more difficult to breathe through. Although they potentially have their place in situations where a deaf person may need to lip read, this isn’t the norm and you should stick to something snug-fitting, made out of cloth material or the single-use paper masks. Same goes for those stupid masks with built-in straws. Just drink your damn Slurpee when you get home!
Wash your masks! I can’t stress this one enough! I wear reusable masks and my wife and I made a quick grocery run after eating at a burger joint, the one day. I accidentally burped into my mask and nearly passed out! You wouldn’t wear your underwear indefinitely without laundering them (or maybe you would, I’m not here to judge) so why would you continue to wear a mask that you’re exhaling bacteria into? Just like hand-washing, you need to maintain proper hygiene when it comes to the wearing of these masks.
There have been a number of posts circulating online about how wearing a mask for long periods can increase the amount of carbon dioxide that you breathe back in, but it’s all bullshit that’s been disproven ten ways from Sunday. Masks are far too breathable for you to take in any significant amount of CO2 from your own exhalation. Not to mention that every breath you exhale is still oxygen-rich enough to constitute a second breath. Why do you think giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is acceptable? But the bacteria build-up is a very real thing and your masks should be laundered after a couple of outings or disposed of, if they’re the disposable, paper kind.
Cover your nose. This one drives me up the fuckin’ wall, honestly! What’s the point of wearing a face mask if you simply leave your nose uncovered for all your COVID-19 boogers to come flying out like mortars on a battlefield? Use some common sense and wear the mask properly! It’s kind of like wearing a condom, if you don’t wear it properly, there will be consequences. Except those consequences likely won’t kill you like COVID-19 could. But I digress…
First responders and medical professionals wear facial masks for hours and hours on end, most for a minimum of 8 hours during scheduled shifts but some for very much longer, with no lingering negative effects other than putting up with the mask itself. That’s been happening for longer than I’ve been around. So, a long time. Unless you have a serious, diagnosed pulmonary issue, are someone with cognitive or mental health issues making comprehension difficult or have suffered some trauma involving the covering of your face, there’s really no excuse for simply not obeying what is now the law and WEAR. YOUR. DAMN. MASK.
To the conspiracy theorists, I offer a question: what possible benefit could there be in convincing the population to wear a face mask? From a conspiracy perspective? Seriously. Give me an answer. I’ll wait. No, honesty I won’t. At the end of the day, maintaining social distancing is something that should have started years ago. Many countries have taken to wearing face masks in public for decades. None of this is new. And considering there have been almost a million and half deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, I think that slipping on a mask for half an hour while you pick up your groceries won’t kill you. But COVID-19 might. Food for thought…☯