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I take asthma medication every day.  I can’t stand to have anything over my face because when I do, I feel like I can’t breathe.  I HATE wearing a mask, but these days, when I go out to anyplace where there are other people, I always cover my nose and mouth.  

I live in Southern California and our state was the first to issue a stay-at-home order.  Because of the early precautions California has been relatively lucky when you compare our numbers of Coronavirus infections and deaths to the statistics of other states who were slower to act.  We are slowly reopening now, and here in San Diego County masks are mandatory.  When I go on a rare trip to the store or bank, almost everyone is wearing a mask, and most open business places have signs reminding people that masks are required.

Yet every day we see video of people throughout the country protesting rules requiring them to wear masks. That is even true of California. Some of these protestors claim that it interferes with their Constitutional rights or their freedoms.  Today while I was walking my dogs, I saw people out walking or bike riding without face coverings. The President refuses to wear a mask, and most of the people around him don’t either.  Now there are several White House staffers who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has become a national voice of sanity during the pandemic, says people who refuse to wear a face mask are being disrespectful.

” It’s disrespectful to the nurses, the doctors, the people who have been frontline workers,” the New York governor said. “You wear the mask not for yourself, you wear the mask for me. It’s a sign of respect to other people… You know how you show love? By wearing a mask.”

COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease.  Every day we are learning more about the effects it has on the human body.  In a few short months it has killed over 80,000 people in the US and the death toll continues to rise each day.  Most of those people died without the comforting presence of their loved ones. The survivors may suffer from aftereffects such as lung damage for the rest of their lives.  While children were originally thought to be safe from the virus, COVID-19 may be related to a syndrome that is causing symptoms in children that are similar to toxic shock syndrome.  We may ultimately find that every one of us can be considered high risk.

Wearing a cloth mask isn’t about protecting yourself, it’s about keeping other people safe. We know now that people without any coronavirus symptoms can be very contagious.  When you wear a mask, it says you care about other people.  When you wear a mask, it tells people that you value their lives and are doing what you can to keep them healthy.  The people who think they are proving a point by not wearing a mask are only making the time we need to stay at home last longer for everyone. 

So please, everyone, wear a mask when you are around people, and practice social distancing.  There are lots of fun masks available.  There are masks that make political statements.  If you so desire, you can even get a MAGA mask.  Wearing a mask says that you are a compassionate person, who cares about others.

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