Sunday, May 17, 2020

Mask up!

I guess you can tell what's at the top of my mind these days, huh? My last several posts have been about COVID-19.

I know I'm not alone -- the virus has pretty much been on everybody's minds around the world. And as I said last week, this business of staying home is wearing thin. Which reminds me -- I have a couple of updates for you on our adventures in apartment living: Remember when I said if our new downstairs neighbors complained again about the noise we weren't guilty of making, I'd offer to trade with them because the folks above us had a newborn? Well, the joke's on me; the baby belongs to the complainers.  And our new upstairs neighbors? Stomper still stomps. And they've had friends over both days this weekend. I'm not gonna be a Karen and report them, but I'm annoyed. Social distancing isn't a joke, people!

And that brings me to the subject of today's post, which is the claim made by some folks that requiring them to wear masks in public violates their constitutional rights.

I've just discovered that the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has produced a number of podcasts about this and other challenges to the government's response to COVID-19. (By the way, the National Constitution Center is a nonprofit, not a government agency.) In the first podcast mentioned at the link, they talk about why requirements to wear masks don't fall foul of the Constitution. TL;DR: The Founding Fathers had a lot more experience with epidemics than we do today, and quarantine was a universally recognized way of handling them. Not only do the rules and regulations we've been under lately not violate our constitutional rights, but they're actually helping us to preserve our inalienable right to keep living.

But some people need more persuasion.

As I'm sure you've heard, the fabric masks we're wearing everywhere now aren't designed to keep us from getting sick ourselves, but to keep us from spreading germs we have to others. And as I'm sure you've also heard, COVID-19 spreads most readily for a couple of days before symptoms appear -- assuming they ever do. So for someone to say, "I'm not gonna wear a mask! I feel fine!" is pretty dumb. Just because you're not feeling sick right now, it doesn't mean anything. You could still be a walking disease vector.

But apparently for a lot of folks (or maybe a relative handful of really noisy folks), that kind of altruistic appeal falls on deaf ears.

So what we need is to find some way to get through to them, the way we have on another public health issue: seatbelts.

When I was a kid, we didn't have seatbelts in cars. Zero, zip, nada. Parents routinely let their kids ride on their laps or in the back of the family station wagon or -- horrors! -- in the bed of the family pickup truck. All without wearing any kind of restraints. It's a wonder any of survived.

But even after seatbelts became mandatory equiment in new cars in 1968, there was a lot of resistance to wearing them. My dad used to say he'd seen people survive accidents by being thrown clear of the wreck, which wouldn't have happened if they'd been wearing a seatbelt. As late as 1980, only 11 percent of people were doing it. States then began to mandate seatbelt use and eventually allowed police to stop and ticket drivers who weren't wearing them without observing any other violations.

At last, states were getting drivers' attention. But the decades-old slogan, "Buckle up - it's the law," needed work. It was North Carolina that came up with the keeper in 1993: "Click It or Ticket."

What I'm saying is we need a P.R. campaign for mask wearing, and it needs a catchy slogan. I've seen a couple of suggestions on Facebook over the past few days, but it wasn't until I saw this meme today that I realized we had our keeper.

Got your attention, didn't it? Feel free to share it far and wide. And kudos to the anonymous meme-maker.

These moments of attention-getting blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. And remember: #MaskItOrCasket

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