To the editors:
Being at high risk for COVID-19, I shop as early as possible and at stores with special hours for at-risk individuals. I always wear a mask and disinfect as much as possible.
Those who do not believe in the importance of masks in limiting the spread of COVID-19 must want to return to the “good old days” before measles and polio vaccines, when huge numbers of our youth were paralyzed or died from those diseases.
We should all wear masks all the time.
Recently, at a store, I saw an individual who was most likely also at high risk. He was not wearing a mask. I did something very unusual and highly out of character for me: I asked why he was not wearing a mask.
He responded it was his personal yada-yada and no one was going to make him wear a mask. I told him that wearing a mask could protect him and me from acquiring COVID-19. Needless to say, he was not happy
His unhappiness was reflected in the volume of his voice. A shopper in the next aisle heard the exchange and walked over to us.
Whereas my comments were as tactful and polite as possible, hers were strong, vitriolic and decisive and questioned his intelligence. She chastised him for not wearing a mask, saying he was endangering her. The store manager, hearing the voices, walked over to try to adjudicate the dispute. The net result was that the unmasked shopper left the store—angry
With the number of cases of COVID-19 in the community skyrocketing, what we are doing is clearly not working. Yet, Gov. Kevin Stitt refuses to issue a mask order. He frequently says we should take “personal responsibility.” In a recent press conference he asked, ”Who is going to enforce the mask order?”
The exchange I had in the store is an indication of who might enforce mask-wearing. The governor says he can’t enforce it; he will not even try. So we will have to.
Store managers can post signs similar to “No shirt, no service.” “No mask, no entry permitted.” We can approach fellow shoppers and tell them they have rights but not the right to expose us to COVID-19: “I knew there would be people like you in the store, so I brought extra masks. Here’s one for you.”
More than half of the states have mask requirements. Texas, of all places, has a mask requirement. What do they know that we don’t?
The governor says we should “do the right thing.” Unfortunately, the governor does not have the courage to do the right thing himself.
If saving lives is important to you, issue the order, Gov. Stitt.
Tom Coniglione, MD
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