The face mask has just become an outward symbol of something that some people think we can do to protect ourselves but it has turned into a shaming exercise and now even a death.
In a small town about 200 km from Toronto, a 73 year-old man was confronted by a store clerk in mid July for not wearing a face mask. Police were called. When police showed up at his home it is unclear what happened but police fatally shot him.
Scientists don’t all agree there is protection from wearing a face mask.
For months the World Health Organization, Health Canada and Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there was no evidence that wearing a face mask would provide protection.
One or two scientists jumped on the bandwagon campaigning for face masks to be made mandatory trying to shame health authorities into taking this step.
It is hard to find any real evidence of why a few people feel so strongly that face masks are so important other than the fact that we have nothing to lose.
You know the sort of thing – why would you not want to wear a face mask if it “could” prevent transmission, keep one person from getting ill, save one life “potentially”.
Now it has killed someone.
It sounds so righteous to say that we could all do one small thing and potentially make an impact for the greater good. The problem is, this is the case with so much in life.
If we stopped driving vehicles or reduced the speed limit to 30 km everywhere we could save thousands of lives. If we stopped exposing ourselves to emissions from vehicles and other toxic chemicals we could cut the rate of cancers and save thousands of lives.
Isn’t it interesting that just a couple years ago the raging debate was whether it was appropriate for women to partially cover their faces for religious reasons. You can probably remember the fear about the danger of not being able to see someone’s face. Now it is all OK, those dangers have gone – it seems.
The two most important ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands and maintain a social distance.
Not touching a face mask when it is in place is just as important. If you watch anyone wearing one, in due course they will adjust it with their hands and then use those same hands to touch something else that you may touch.
If you want to wear a face mask, if you are able to wear a face mask without encountering any difficulty breathing or an allergic reaction on your skin – please go ahead and do so. This is not a bad thing at all.
It is a bad thing to shame those who have for whatever reason decided not to wear one.
Sending police to go after someone not wearing a face mask raises it to another level altogether. So far Alberta has not gone that route and let’s hope it stays that way.
This editorial originated in the Medicine Hat News.