A Missed Opportunity for Anti-maskers

“A woman uses her chiffon scarf as a ‘face mask’ during the Great Smog of London, 1952.”
Photo colourised by Tom Marshall, 2020 of Photografix. You can visit his shop here.

I have been ranting a LOT about masks lately. I live in Wisconsin and on August 1st our Governor finally issued a mask mandate. When I read the headline in the newspaper it brought me so much joy I can’t even tell you. His action will be life-changing for me.

You see, I’m a at-risk person. I actually have multiple health issues that put me at-risk so I’d even say I’m a super-duper at-risk person. I’ve been isolating at home since March 11th and unlike most people who have been able to venture out a bit since around the end of May, I am still essentially sheltering at home. Other than weekly trips to pick up groceries, a few doctor appointments, and about the half dozen times I’ve gotten curbside pickup from restaurants instead of delivery, I haven’t been anywhere. According to my report from my insurance company (I have one of those little devices in my car) I am averaging less than 5 miles a week.

I did start having visitors in June, once the weather got nice enough to sit outside, but I can count the number of visits on one hand. I had one group of friends over that I hadn’t seen in over six months and between not seeing them for that long and just not seeing people in general I almost started to cry at one point.

Anyhoo, I realize it will take a little time for the effects of the mask mandate to settle in. The numbers won’t go down immediately and people obviously won’t all wear them willingly right away, but in time, hopefully in a month or two, I may actually be able to go into a store myself to shop or get my haircut or go over to friends’ homes, or have people come to my house, and not worry (as much) that it’s putting my life in jeopardy.

You see, it isn’t that I don’t trust my salon or my friends, I do. I know that they are doing everything they can to be safe, but they may unknowingly have interaction with someone who is not taking any precautions and that is what scares me. And really, even people who are completely careful have been known to catch the virus. The problem is, if I catch it, it’s pretty much a death sentence.

Sadly, the Wisconsin GOP, who control the legislature, decided they don’t like that the Governor has used the powers that he is authorized to use by law. The truth is, they don’t like that the Governor has any power at all and have done everything they can to take away any power and authority he has (even though he was elected Governor by a majority of the voters of this state, but I digress.) And now they want to repeal the mask mandate.

Trusting though that democracy is important and that I should make my opinion known and that if enough people did this that the WI GOP would actually listen, I wrote to my representative, Alberta Darling. I told her how extremely important it was that the mask mandate not be repealed. I told her what I said above, that the mask mandate will be life-changing for me, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Here is the reply I received from one of her aides…

Dear Ms. Stoltz,

Thank you for reaching out to Senator Darling’s office regarding the Governor’s recent statewide mask mandate. I will pass along your thoughts to Senator Darling.

First and foremost, Senator Darling believes that people in Wisconsin should continue to make smart decisions to protect themselves and those around them. She believes that everyone should practice social distancing guidelines and wear a mask when appropriate, and encourages businesses to follow WEDC guidelines to protect customers. Senator Darling supports the decisions of many local municipalities, restaurants, doctor’s offices, bars, gyms, and other businesses that already require individuals to wear masks and keep their distance while inside, as these decisions are best made at the local level instead of through a one-size-fits-all statewide mandate.

With that being said, Senator Darling takes issue with the process through which the mask mandate was implemented. She worries that a fresh emergency declaration is the beginning of an effort to keep students out of in-person classes this fall, which she has publicly expressed deep concerns with on many levels. As you are likely aware, many school districts in the area have been planning to begin session in-person this fall in conjunction with the recommendations of many scientists, experts and pediatricians.

Thank you again for reaching out. If you have any questions or further comments for me to pass along, please feel free to do so again.

Many thanks

I want you to notice that Senator Darling doesn’t have an issue with masks and that she is still encouraging people to wear them. But she (and her colleagues) are prepared to strike down the mask mandate because they fear it will lead to the Governor eventually adding a virtual school mandate, which he has publicly stated he will not.

(Side note, the Senator Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald has criticized the governor on changing his mind on issuing a stay-at-home order. This is one of the most asinine things I have ever heard. The fact that a political leader might need to change his mind on a health decision during a global pandemic and then get criticized for it is outrageous. Even more outrageous: that anything related to the pandemic is being made political in the first place.)

Of course the logical thing to do would be to wait to see if he actually does try to do a school mandate and then strike that down but no, they are going to let people suffer and die over their ideological zealotry and thirst for power. It terrible what people on a sinking ship that are desperately clawing at whatever they can are willing to do to try to survive. Sadly a lot of people will get hurt or die in their attempt to save themselves.

FYI, healthcare workers* support the mask mandate, businesses* support the mask mandate, municipalities* support the mask mandate and fortunately it turns out that health departments can enforce the mandate which may be necessary in some areas since there are some sheriffs in the state who have said they would not enforce the mandate (which is part of public health emergency, so they are basically ignoring a law.)

So, getting back to the original point of this blog – what is the missed opportunity. Well, for all these anti-mask people, who most likely were also anti-lockdown people and may very well have been carrying signs at those protests, well, you are giving up prime real estate for posting messages. I mean seriously, check out some of these masks.

Missed opportunity for getting ONE’S MESSAGE ACROSS. Here’s a few for the anti-maskers…

Swearing means your smart
These have a more literary bent to them. The irony of the bottom two would be lost on most people who would wear them I’m sure.
Course he was talking about slavery but I suppose you could compare that to having to wear a mask.

Or for those in support of masks and/or who want the world to be sane again there are masks like this:

For myself though, I see masks as an opportunity to ACCESSORIZE!!!
There are some gorgeous masks out there…

This baby is ridiculously expensive, but isn’t it gorgeous? And 100% of the proceeds go to a food bank.
I ordered several masks from this site. Gorgeous!
Lisa Shepherd is an obviously talented Metis artist from British Columbia. Isn’t this stunning????
Admittedly, this looks like part of a bikini

OR, for those who have disposable income, why not buy the world’s most expensive mask that costs a mere $1.5 million…

Parts and a model of a mask is displayed in the Israeli jewelry company Yvel in Motza near Jerusalem, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020.
An Israeli jewelry company is working on what it says will be the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask, a gold, diamond-encrusted face covering
with a price tag of $1. 5 million. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

And there is also the missed opportunity to show one’s INDIVIDUALITY

They are currently sold old, but they are going to be back in stock soon. I mean, how is this for clever!? A leather alien facehugger mask, super unique.
View this post on Instagram

Quarantine day 5 -mother of pterodactyls mask During the lock down, as we have limited access to resources, with photographer @anthonylycettphotography we started a project focusing on facemasks. Highly coveted, out of stock, stolen between countries, at the heart of a public health scandal… Useful, not useful. Medical grade, surgical or homemade crafty fabric one… In this new era will a mask become the new indispensable fashion accessory ousting hats or scarves? Compared to eye mask that is supposed to hide your identity what does mouth mask reveal of your persona? The etymology of the word “mask” could come from the Spanish más que la cara (literally, "more than the face" or "added face", Maybe mask like make up or jewellery could bring another dimension to our bare face and tell something of the way we want to present ourselves, as an intimate banner, a personal flag. As costume designer, I have never worked on masks before and I am finding new creative potential from this little surface directly applied on the skin. As they conceal our mouth and emphasise our eyes in a very performative way, they change the whole dynamic of our facial expressions. Placed on the mouth and directly under the eyes “the window of the soul’’ they bring new narratives to the face. Another layer of meaning through another layer of fabric. Costume assistant @femfms #pterodactyl #dinosaurmask #fabricmask #protectivemask #facemask #selfandstylish #self&stylish #golddinosaur

A post shared by Anne Sophie Cochevelou (@sophiecochevelou) on

Steampunk aficionados already are adept at wearing masks so this is giving them an excuse to buy more/better ones.
Disco ball mask? Yes, please!
How about a Gin & Tonic mask!

By the way, since I’ve gone on so long about this topic (and because I am librarian after all) I might as well go all the way and provide some factual information.

Apparently some anti-mask geniuses have been making claims that they are exempt from wearing masks for health reasons. Sadly, people are even using fake “exemption” cards like the one below, which has been making its way ’round the internet. It cites the ADA and says they aren’t required to disclose their condition. How very convenient. But it is also complete crap.

FACT – more and more doctors have been getting the word out via various news outlets that there really are very few health concerns which prevent a person from wearing a mask. For most people it is simply a matter that it is uncomfortable or takes some getting used to.

They say if you find it difficult to breath in a mask, the solution may be to try a different style mask. Some suggest you practice wearing a mask for a little bit at a time at home, where you are comfortable and relaxed, and build up to where you can wear it for longer periods of time.

Here’s something from the Asthma.org.uk website that is excellent –

Do I have to wear a face covering if I have asthma?

Most people with asthma, even if it’s severe, can manage to wear a face mask for a short period of time, and shouldn’t worry if they need to wear one. Wearing a mask does not reduce a person’s oxygen supply or cause a build-up of carbon dioxide. You may have read stories that say that it can, but this isn’t true.

Some people with asthma tell us that face coverings can make breathing feel more difficult, which might be uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to try wearing a face covering at home, or on a short walk around the block first. It might not feel comfortable straight away, so give it a chance.

You can also experiment with different types of mask – some are easier to wear than others. Sometimes the feeling of wearing a face mask might take a bit of getting used to, but trying different types and starting with short periods of time can help you feel more comfortable.

There isn’t a blanket rule about face covering exemptions for everyone with asthma. But if you find it impossible to wear a face covering for health reasons, you don’t have to wear one. An example of this might be if a mask makes you too breathless.

https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/what-should-people-with-asthma-do-now/should-i-wear-a-face-mask-or-face-covering/

I realize that this is specific to asthma, but it really could apply to anyone who finds it difficult to breath in a mask. Of all at-risk individuals, those with asthma would probably be the ones who have the most obvious breathing issues, so if they are being advised to wear masks, I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume most everyone should be wearing masks.

FACT – masks ARE effective, despite the politicians who keep to say they aren’t.

I had been thinking about how I hadn’t heard much about the reversal of the mask mandate for some time. It took me a while to write this blog post (I usually work on multiple things at the same time and also, it takes time to gather the info) so I started it about a week ago when the the WI GOP came out saying they were going to reverse the mandate come hell or high water. I thought that was curious.

It occurred to me it may be because they are waiting for today’s primary election to be over. You see the Governor had to call up over 900 National Guard to work as poll workers because that is how many the clerks across the state were short. There was some question about whether or not he would be able to do that if the WI GOP reversed the mask mandate because you see, the mandate wasn’t just a mask mandate, I believe it was also a Public Health Emergency which gave him the authority to do things like call up the National Guard for duties such as this. I wondered if they were simply waiting until the election was over to reverse the mask mandate and if that were the case that would be appalling. But it turns out, they appear not to have the votes to reverse it. OMG!

I thought I’d end with a few PSAs…

Here’s one by the State of Oregon. It was for the Fourth of July weekend but it’s relevant anytime.

Here’s a great campaign – Mask Up Milwaukee. Who do YOU MaskUp for?

Wearing a mask can be scary, not wearing one can be deadly.

This PSA from California – if this doesn’t make you want to wear a mask, you have a serious problem.

And the most powerful video of all of them I think, this PSA from the Czech Republic, a country with a population of over 10 million people but with less than 20,000 total cases and under 400 total deaths.

*Of course when listing a group of people, you can never say ALL scientists or ALL doctors or ALL business owners, but a good number of these groups support the mandate.

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