Don’t be selfish – wear a mask

I was appalled when I heard about anti-maskers pleading their ludicrous case to Minto council last Tuesday night (click here for article).

Over the last 15 years, I’ve taken great pride in the countless stories the Advertiser has covered of caring Wellington County residents going above and beyond for their friends, family, neighbours and community. I was particularly warmed by the tremendously selfless actions of local residents since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I honestly never thought I would see protests against public health measures here.

Minto officials deserve a lot of credit for their measured response to the delegation, though I suspect most simply did not want to engage with the anti-maskers. As the rest of us know by now, anti-mask zealots tend to be an infallible, confrontational group with a strong aversion to facts and common sense.

Never mind that in Ontario more than 2,800 people have died of COVID-19 and there have been over 47,000 cases to date; or that over two thirds of recent cases are people under the age of 40. If you listen to the anti-maskers, we shouldn’t bother with safety protocols in Wellington County because we’ve had lower case counts here and “only” two deaths.

What is wrong with these people? We’ve had great results here precisely because of the local support for safety measures such as the mask order, distancing, hand washing, gathering limits, etc.

It is mind boggling that a group of ill-informed and selfish residents think they know better than myriad dedicated health care professionals who have been advocating for these precautions for months.

The timing is troubling as well. This “protest” comes just as cases are spiking across the province, as children are returning to school, and as we are being warned about the concurrent dangers of a second wave and COVID fatigue.

My wife, an emergency room nurse, has witnessed firsthand the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on families. And it’s not just seniors and those with pre-existing health conditions that are impacted, as anti-maskers often suggest, callously implying those individuals are somehow not as important as the relatively young and healthy.

About a month ago, my wife treated an otherwise healthy man in his early 40s who came to the hospital exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Within three hours he was dead. That’s a rare case, I’m sure the anti-maskers will point out. Even so, if wearing a mask could possibly prevent even one person/family from having to go through such a tragedy, that should be more than enough to convince even the biggest skeptics to put on a mask.

But wait, “wearing a mask infringes on my rights,” the anti-maskers will claim (with a straight face, no less). Really? Does wearing a seatbelt also infringe on your rights? What about wearing a shirt and shoes in a restaurant? What about not smoking in public? The fact is, various levels of government regularly compel behaviour in order to protect people.

For the millionth time: we wear face coverings to protect others.

Frontline health care workers have not been putting their lives on the line for the past seven months – most of them wearing full PPE for hours on end – just to have anti-maskers and other covidiots spouting ignorant, false and dangerous theories because they don’t like being inconvenienced during a five minute trip to the corner store.

What kind of example are these people setting for our children?

Believe it or not, one of the anti-maskers actually made the following statement to Minto council: “I want you to consider the future of your children and grandchildren … I want you to be able to tell them, when they ask, as I will for my children, that you stood up for their rights, their dreams and their freedoms.” Unreal.

Anti-maskers obviously don’t get it, but here’s just a small sample of what they are actually teaching the next generation:

  • your desire not to be inconvenienced trumps the right of everyone else not to be put in harm’s way;
  • ignore science and reason;
  • trust social media and conspiracy theorists over reliable news outlets;
  • in times of crisis, spread confusion and misinformation;
  • it’s okay to berate and ignore the very civil servants trying to protect you; and
  • above all else, be selfish.

For months now it has been obvious that the COVID-19 crisis has brought out the best in most of us.

Sadly, as the pandemic drags on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it has also brought out the worst in some of us.