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To wear a mask or not wear one?

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Nov 15, 2020

It has been roughly eight months now. Eight months since our daily lives changed. So, how are you coping? If you are like me, you have learned to adjust. But still, you are getting a little weary of it all. I know I am.

For instance, I now carry a mask or two in my coat pockets, another couple in my briefcase and camera bag, a couple are hanging from the gear shift lever in my vehicle, there is one on my desk and several at home on the counter.

I have gotten used to automatically putting one on when I enter a building. I am getting used to my glasses fogging up. I have learned I can wear a mask for two and a half hours of a city council meeting without hardly thinking about it.

After wearing a mask for 36 one-hour sessions of exercise for cardiac rehab, I learned that wearing a mask takes some getting used to, but you can get used to it.

I now easily recognize people even when they are wearing a mask, and they recognize me. I sometimes ask them how they knew it was me, since I have a mask on, and they laugh. I am not sure what that means.

I joke all the time now when I am taking a photo of a group of masked up folks and say “Smile!” Sometimes they get it right away, the fact that even if they smile no one will know because of the mask. Sometimes they don’t. I tell them I can actually tell if they smile because their eyes crinkle up.

It is easy to spot people without masks, because there are so many fewer of them these days. They really stand out. I often wonder to myself why they are not wearing a mask, but I have not asked them, unless I know them pretty well.

If a person has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one, then they don’t have to. That medical condition can be physical, mental or emotional, I guess. Some say they were sick, recovered and now have anti-bodies and so can go maskless.

Others, I suspect, just don’t want to, so they don’t. Still others may be doing it just to make a point, that they feel no one, including the governor, can make them do something they don’t want to. (Their mothers were probably plenty happy when they moved out of the house).

The Blue Earth City Council discussed this not wearing a mask issue at their last council meeting. Obviously, like other businesses, masks are required when entering City Hall, the library, senior center, fitness center, liquor store, etc. That goes for employees and visitors.

But what happens when someone enters and is not wearing a mask. The city, like many businesses, has a policy in place for that.

The person is asked to please put on a mask, and there is usually one available if they don’t have one. The person can explain they have a medical condition and they can’t wear a mask. Usually they are then asked to socially distance from everyone in the building.

But, what happens if they say they have a right to not wear a mask and the employee can’t make them do it.

That is where it gets tricky. Some businesses ask them to leave. Some refuse to serve them. Others just let it drop.

In larger cities, the confrontation sometimes has escalated to physical violence.

Last Monday the City Council discussed adding to their mask policy that the employees need to call law enforcement should someone refuse to wear a mask or leave the building.

I must admit, I think that is a bit of a drastic move. Sure, I do believe that wearing a mask is important. I hope it helps keep me safe, and the people around me. It does not seem like that big of an inconvenience to me.

But, to call the cops to come escort someone out of a place because they are not wearing a mask? In our small town? That is a pretty big step.

So what is the point of all this discussion about masks?

Well, it is just that eight months ago, we were living our lives without even thinking about masks, and the fact that we might need to own a whole bunch of them never crossed our minds.

Now we have some that color coordinate with what we are wearing, or ones that have the Green Giant or a business logo or sports team mascot on them. People were wearing ones at Halloween with scary mouths on them, or other strange faces. Some are wearing the Gator style masks.

Mask wearing has become a fashion statement. Who would have thought that would happen eight months ago.

So, find a mask you like and wear it. It is not that big of a deal.

(Did you notice that I just wrote a column about COVID-19 and the coronavirus without ever mentioning the words COVID-19 or coronavirus? Oops. Until now, that is.)