Masks

It is shocking, really, the differences in attitude about wearing masks in Tucson from one area to the next. One group of our friends won’t leave home without one (a few won’t leave the house period,) while another group of our friends doesn’t seem to be terribly concerned about them at all. Both groups of people are families who love each other ferociously. So it is not an issue of willful neglect. This is a trickier issue.

Differences in attitudes like this don’t usually bother me but this one is about public safety – so having everyone on a different page is concerning. In this situation I think a positive course of action is starting a conversation about this issue. Without judgement. I just want to understand my community.

So…masks. What are your thoughts when it comes to masks? What are your family practices?

Here is our family’s story.

I remember vividly when I realized that masks were going to be an important part of our life during the COVD-19 pandemic. I was driving home from buying groceries and there was a radio story about the CDC recommending that people wear masks to lessen the spread of the virus.

I was floored because just a few weeks ago the CDC had no such recommendation, even going out of its way to say so. However, I do know that science is an imperfect art and as we learn more about things, we change our practices. I’d seen quite a bit of footage of people wearing masks over the years from countries who had gone through other pandemics (China and Japan,) so it made sense to me.

But it was also my first oh crap, this is serious!!! moment when it came to the pandemic. If the CDC wasn’t taking masks seriously before and reversed their importance, it seemed like a signal that they thought that the virus was going to spread everywhere in the USA.

So, I started wearing a painter’s mask when I went out.

I saw people making their own on social media and though I am a crafty sort of person, I just didn’t feel like making my own. I don’t know why. My little way of defying the pandemic? Maybe. But my sister in law and my mom in law made quite a few and sent some to the kids. Thank you M & A. Which made my shopper-husband start buying different masks to try out for all of us. Later M & A sent more masks for all of us too, which we love. So did a few friends of J’s from work – usually for my little one because it is fun to make stuff for little ones.

My husband’s company also sent him home to work soon after the mask recommendation came out, which further clinched our oh crap, this is serious!!! mentality. J started wearing his mask everywhere he went when out, even when jogging. My mother in law wore hers everywhere she went and encouraged my father in law to do the same. Even when visiting us – which consisted of us waving at each other at the front door.

Playdates for my daughter consisted of outdoor activities wearing masks the whole time. Except for the one friend at a private pool, with the thought and recommendation from a doctor friend that the chemicals in the pool made it far less of a concern for transmission. We stayed socially distanced otherwise.

Hang-outs for my son consisted of doing stuff that was usually done inside outside with masks on the whole time, like watching movies (computer outside with extension cords,) putting together models and making movies (again, computers outside,) except when eating; eating done socially distanced.

With the kids’ social activities there were sometimes moments when they would forget and hold hands or hug or go inside and we had to remind them about social distancing (which totally sucked.) But everyone has been ok.

As time has gone on we’ve gotten a little more laid back in that we have visited with my in-laws inside with the windows open and with a very occasional friend or two with the windows open. We discuss with friends we see in person who we’ve been hanging out with.

And that is our practice for now.

A few observations

A pattern I’ve noticed is that my family and extended family has four people with strong opinions to wear masks and to socially distance. We check in with each other and when faced with a new situation, we talk about it and plan for the future. Two of us were so supportive of mask wearing that we made them ourselves.

On the political spectrum we are split so this does not track with the right and the left having opinions one way or the other. We are just very conscious of our health as all of us have had one big issue or another come up in our lives over the years.

How much of this matters?

Though Tucson does have new cases of COVID-19 every day, there have not been very many reported cases in my neighborhood. However, schools have just reopened and people are starting to come out a bit more. Perhaps the risk is lower here. But as long as there still is a risk, I just don’t feel it is responsible to go about as if it is business as usual.

I know it has been terrible for every one of us not to be able to spend time with our friends and neighbors. And what’s more is that I am sure that most of our community members are dealing with things on top such as extra strain at work, job loss, financial hardship, and balancing that with a much larger load than ever before educating our children. So an explanation might be that masks is the last thing people are thinking about.

I guess I am just frustrated because I want things to get back to normal and to do that we need to stop spreading the virus until there is a vaccine. Masks and social distancing are the only two ways I can think of. I feel like I’m doing something that way to help. I also feel I am staying informed and in the loop.

But what are you feeling? Because we are living such a sequestered life these days, I am uninformed at how everyone else is feeling.

Our friends

Because our family has been so pro-mask and social distancing, the biggest challenge regarding masks has been building a mask wearing practice with our friends. We let our friends know our practices so far and just go from there.

However, I don’t always know our friends’ practices. Sometimes that is because friends haven’t been out much and they are not sure what those practices are yet. Sometimes it is because we are the only friend they have seen outside of their own family.

Maybe one explanation for the difference in practices is that many of us just keep to ourselves and when we finally visit we are so happy to see one another we just magically believe for awhile that we are safe. No one would intentionally want to make a friend sick.

But this is exactly why I am writing this article. I would feel awful if I got a friend sick. I wear the mask to keep us both safe because I like you so much.

Anyway, please share how you are feeling about this if you would like.

If you want to start a mask wearing social-distancing practice during the pandemic, I encourage you to talk to your loved ones. Get the rules figured out. Stick to them. Talk to each other with the new situations you encounter. Make it normal if you feel it is important.

About LornaGovier

Lorna Govier lives in Tucson, AZ.
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