I am a registered nurse at a Southern California children’s hospital. As a health care professional and concerned citizen, I feel compelled to offer my perspective on mask vs no mask debate by way of analogy.
When caring for a diabetic teen readmitted for non-adherence to their insulin regimen, I usually give some form of the following pep talk. Diabetes doesn’t care that finger pricks are painful. It doesn’t care that carbohydrate counting is laborious and insulin injections irritating. It doesn’t care about any of our excuses. Unless controlled, diabetes invariably leads to heart disease, blindness, amputations, even death. Fortunately, with practice and effort, a diabetic regimen can become habitual, even mundane, and when it does the diagnosis need not result in any of these debilitating or life-threatening consequences.
To my fellow Californians, I offer the same advice. The planet has been diagnosed with a novel corona virus, a disease which kills the vulnerable, crashes economies, cripples healthcare systems, and banishes us from schools, churches, employment, and recreation. And just like diabetes, it doesn’t care about our excuses. It doesn’t care that it gets stuffy under the mask. It doesn’t care about our politics or notions of patriotism. It doesn’t care that we are Americans with rights. All it cares about is finding a new host, a job we make much more difficult on it when we place distance and masks between our respective lungs, a practice we can make mundane and habitual if we are willing to put in the effort.
Recently, Californians let out a collective groan as governor Gavin Newsom reinstated some of the restrictions which were just lifted a month ago. But unless and until we are all willing to make the minor sacrifice of enduring some stuffy air and muffled mask speech, we cannot reasonably expect to reclaim the greater freedoms of leisure travel, employment, available healthcare, communal worship, and in-person education the pandemic has taken from us.