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Michelle Phillips

Now that businesses are starting to open back up in areas of the state, I want to ask you all to wear a mask in public.

I have been wearing a mask in public, for the most part, since March 18, the day I flew back from Colorado. No one was wearing a mask then. People looked at me strange and laughed at me, but I didn’t care. I was getting on a packed airplane for over three hours with strangers, some of whom were coughing and sneezing.

I see wearing a mask as a safety precaution. Not much different than wearing a condom to prevent HIV/AIDS. Before anyone has a hissy fit about my comparison, think about it. Most of you would not have sex with a stranger and not use a condom, so why would you want to have an unprotected respiratory exchange with someone who may be carrying the disease and not know.

Recent studies have shown that in many areas of mass testing, 50 percent or more of those tested were asymptomatic. One sampling of a prison in Colorado found at the time of testing nearly 90 percent were asymptomatic. You could be asymptomatic right now and not know because of the absence of symptoms. The very definition of asymptomatic.

I took a virology class in college, which by no means makes me an expert on viruses, but I do know that evolution and mutation are the nature of viruses. This is a novel virus, meaning no one has natural immunity to COVID-19. It is new, and though we have experienced other coronaviruses over time–SARS and MERS are both coronaviruses–they all behave a little differently.

There have been several recent studies and reports that support the use of masks along with social distance to prevent the spread of the virus. Mayo Clinic offers information supporting the use of masks, as does Johns Hopkins.

Even if you do not feel that a mask is protecting you, remember it may be protecting someone else, a grandparent, a child, someone who is immune compromised. People always say their priority is keeping their family safe and healthy, and this is an easy way to help do that. 

There has been a lot of chitter chatter on social media regarding the selfishness of those who refuse to wear a mask. At the same time several employees at businesses requiring masks have been spit on by guests when asked to put them on. A park ranger, I believe in Utah (don’t quote me), was pushed into a lake when he asked a visitor to wear a mask. And worst of all, a security guard was shot and killed at a dollar store in Flint, MI after he asked a customer to put on a mask.

I know they suck. I know they are uncomfortable. I know they make your glasses fog up. But to me it is simply juvenile and irresponsible to refuse to do your part to protect your fellow Americans. I am not sure what the Greatest Generation would think about this unwillingness to sacrifice when they sacrificed so much during WWII. In my opinion, the very, very least you can do is wear a mask. You are not being asked to ration food or scrap metal, simply to cover your face. 

I really wish that more businesses would require a mask. Even if the state is blown wide open for business again, I’m not going into a store that doesn’t require masks. I am also not going to go any place that I cannot use a mask, such as a bar or restaurant. I will, however, be happy to continue ordering takeout from my favorite restaurants because they need my support.

I do want to take a moment to commend those business that are making masks a requirement. Kudos to the folks that wear them without having to be asked as well. I appreciate that you are doing your part to keep yourself and others safe.

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