Since May, I’ve been tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis and, thankfully, my results have always been negative. I’m 36 years old, white, and female, each of those factors contributing to my low statistical risk of suffering from a severe syndrome of COVID-19 were I to become infected. Still, though, I wear a mask any time I leave my home and there is a possibility that I may be near other humans. Wearing a mask is important to me, and I’ve dedicated myself to doing so for myriad reasons:
• I wear a mask for the protection that it affords me, minimizing my risk of contracting COVID-19 and subsequently spreading the virus to people whom I love and others.
• I wear a mask to shield others from my exhalations because, at any moment, I could be infected with COVID-19, unaware, and capable of transmitting the virus unwittingly. The fact that COVID-19 was not detected in my testing specimen collected on Tuesday has absolutely no bearing on whether or not I may be contagious today.
• I wear a mask because it, understandably, helps others to feel more comfortable around me. In these stressful, uncertain times my mask is a signal to others that I care about their wellbeing.
• I wear a mask because there now exists unequivocal scientific evidence that they are effective at mitigating COVID-19 transmission. Reduced viral transmission allows for the reinvigoration of our economy and the continued progression towards normalcy. Masks work and I want to live in a world where community-level spread of COVID-19 is quelled, so I do my part.
• I wear a mask to honor Reagan, my friend and colleague. The ability to disregard COVID-19 is a luxury that I don’t have because I have witnessed its destruction. The simple act of covering my mouth and nose could prevent the loss of another precious life. Or perhaps it prevents someone from suffering a case of COVID-19 that results not in death but in long-term illness or disability. That’s worth my small effort and everyone else’s.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services launched a new statewide public health campaign encouraging every North Carolinian to wear a mask in contribution to our collective effort against COVID-19. The “Whatever Your Reason” campaign is well-timed, in my opinion. We’re collectively weary after enduring six months of COVID-19 mitigating restrictions that have greatly impacted our daily lives and our ability to connect with the people and activities we most cherish. Key COVID-19 metrics in our state are finally trending favorably following an unexpected and challenging summertime peak, and it is clear that mandated face covering in public played a significant role in the turnaround. Fall and winter, the seasons of respiratory virus proliferation, are on the horizon. All said, it’s a fine time to reiterate the universal masking message: help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a snuggly-fitting mask, covering your nose and your mouth, any time you may reasonably be near others who do not live in your household, indoors or outdoors (so long as you are medically able to do so).
Whatever your reason for wearing a mask—thank you! May your intention bolster you during moments when you feel COVID-mitigation-weary.
Taryn Tindall, RN, on behalf of the Deerfield Leadership Team