To Mask or Not to Mask?
Back on May 20th, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam made the announcement that she was recommending Canadians wear a face mask/covering where physical distancing wasn’t possible. Wearing face masks is not something Westerners are used to. It’s almost a stigma to have one on, however, in East Asia and China, there is no shame in wearing a face mask. In fact, it has been going on there since the pneumonic plague in 1910 and is seen as a sign of civic responsibility to do so. If someone is seen not wearing a face mask during a public health emergency, it is greatly frowned upon and people are actually afraid of that person because they would be considered to have low civic responsibility and disrespect.
Now that things have opened up, we will be exposed to more human contact than we’ve had in the past several months. Social distancing is a new term for us and we are still trying to understand what is acceptable and what is not. Based on what Dr. Tam has suggested, if you are not able to distance yourself in a situation where you will have 2 meters space, then the recommendation is to wear a non-surgical face mask. An example would be if you routinely take the train to work. You cannot guarantee you will be able to keep a 2 meter distance with someone else. In a situation like this, it makes sense to wear a covering. If you take your own car to work, you would not need to wear your mask as you were driving.
COVID-19 is a new virus. We are learning more and more about it each day. We already know you can be asymptomatic. Even though you feel well, you may be a carrier without even realizing it. By wearing a face mask in situations where there will be close contact with others, the chances of spreading it are decreased significantly on both ends. Many states in the US and provinces here in Canada have already enforced a mandate to wear one. Not only are you protecting yourself, you are also protecting the more vulnerable such as a senior or immunosuppressed individual. This shows that you are willing to make a difference in combating this virus and are respectful of others around you. Plus, it is a temporary inconvenience and there are some pretty cool looking face masks being made out there!