There seems to be some misconception as to why I wear a homemade cloth mask in public. I realized this when I moved aside at a checkout lane so the unmasked man crowding behind me could look at the display next to the counter. He glared at me and said “I’m not going to give you a disease. We might as well be living in a foreign country.” Really? If I hadn’t been wearing a mask, his response probably would have just been “Thank you.” So, I’ve decided to explain why I wear a mask.

I don’t wear the mask to protect myself, and I don’t wear it out of fear but rather respect for other people. The COVID-19 germs are small enough to easily pass from the air to me through my homemade mask. I wear it to protect other people from me. The virus travels in small droplets. If I were to have COVID-19, the germs would be contained in the droplets coming from my nose and mouth. Even just speaking can spew out 1,000 droplets per second. These droplets can be large enough to be stopped by a mask. Although homemade masks may be only 50% effective (I did some research before deciding to wear one), a 50/50 chance of preventing me from giving another person COVID-19 seems like pretty good odds to me.

As a side note, I’m disappointed that many local businesses don’t require all of their employees to wear masks. Employees often deal with hundreds of customers a day and may easily be exposed to COVID-19 through these many interactions. It takes 1-3 days after being infected before symptoms appear, and an employee who isn’t wearing a mask could pass COVID-19 to many more people before realizing he/she is sick. The CDC recommends wearing a mask. The Itasca County commissioners asked that people start wearing masks. Governor Waltz asks that everyone wear a mask. So, why don’t many local businesses require it of their employees?

Margery Villeneuve

Deer River

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