Alanea White

Friday for many was a celebration. An end to the outdoor mask mandate was announced, and now the restrictions for vaccinated folks have been further lifted. For many, these announcements were met with tossed masks and unobstructed sighs of relief.

I am not ready to join them in this free face revolution.

I have been fully vaccinated for some time now. As someone living with a person who has both an underlying respiratory illness and a terminal cancer diagnosis I was first in line when my name was called to get my “Fauci ouchie.” But I still am not sure how many folks out there have gotten theirs.

One thing that has confused me greatly in the last year is the ease that a public health crisis has been turned into a political line in the sand.

Scientists have been studying, learning, fighting and teaching about germs, viruses and bacteria for longer than any person has been alive. The germ theory of disease has been around longer than all of us, unless you are a veteran of the American Civil War. We know how to fight germs. We know how to fight viruses. We know how to fight bacteria. We know how to fight air borne viruses, like COVID-19 too.

Public health practices, like germ theory, aren’t new. Hand washing, staying home when you are sick, and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze are all easy things. For the last year wearing a mask, staying six feet apart and getting a vaccine have all been part of those simple tasks to help keep everyone safe. But for some reason those practices have gotten bogged down in politics.

Something that I think we all lost during the times of isolation that came with COVID-19 lock downs was some of our compassion.

At a recent outdoor event, I felt myself getting questioning looks for wearing my mask. The event was less than 500 people and there was plenty of room for distance, but I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel safe without my mask on.

The reversal from mask requirements to masks not needed was just too fast for me to process. Thursday folks were still bucking the system and wandering into places without masks on and then Friday rolled around and a free for all ensued.

I dislike having to think this way, but with the reliance on an honor system for vaccinated folks going without masks being the way we are playing these new rules I think I might be safer with my mask on my face. Nearly every place I have gone in the last year, there has been someone out and about without a mask on their face or a care in the world. Every week I get a the COVID-19 vaccine numbers for both Pine County and Carlton County and while they are growing they aren’t at a place where I think I can take my mask off.

As someone who has had COVID-19, I don’t want it again. So, until I am sure, my mask will stay on.

Alanea White is the editor of the Moose Lake Star-Gazette. She loves hearing about upcoming community events and can be reached by email at editor@mlstargazette.com

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