Commentary: Please Wear a Mask

Photo by  I. Volpe.

COVID-19 unexpectedly rendered people in their sixties and older a vulnerable demographic: physically, emotionally, and financially. Most retirees are poignantly aware of this disturbing truth. For those who, like me, decided to retire recently, COVID-19 did not enter the calculus. Many people plan to reinvent themselves upon retiring, but wearing a mask and living with a global pandemic was not anyone’s aspiration. The coveted new life-chapter retirees are supposed to start includes traveling and spending more time with loved ones, but not being in isolation.   

The staggering number of deaths from COVID-19 makes everyone feel defenseless and compels us to think about our mortality. This unsettling time has confirmed what we knew: humans are not meant to live without close contact with others or die alone. At virtual get-togethers with family and friends, someone always declares that we need to adjust to the new normal. I think this virus is novel, but there is nothing ordinary about living during a pandemic. Villains like COVID-19 usually divide and conquer to achieve their plans to wreak havoc and devastate lives. COVID-19 destroyed livelihoods, canceled trips, and disrupted education. It took lives and eliminated funerals, leaving families to mourn loved ones alone.

Hopefully, not only older citizens but people of all ages will stay determined to prevent contracting this dreadful virus. To avoid this extremely infectious disease, everyone must continue to wear a mask when interacting with other people and practice safety measures recommended by the CDC.

Many find wearing a mask inconvenient, I like to see it as a necessary nuisance. In a world that has been upended, it behooves us to consider that, for now,  wearing a mask is a crucial part of the ticket we all need to reclaim what the pandemic stole. The theft includes writing that new life-chapter, discovering new places, and hugging grandchildren, and … not wearing a mask.

Iolanda Volpe has recently retired from teaching at the high school level.  She aspires to continue being a learner, an observer and an interpreter of life. A former North End resident, she now resides in Charlestown. welcomes commentaries on community issues via email to Opinions are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of or other writers on this site. Responses to this commentary can be posted below in the comment section.

2 Replies to “Commentary: Please Wear a Mask

  1. As a younger (30s) north end resident, I couldn’t agree more! We must all take the responsibility of wearing masks – this isn’t a punishment or a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of community pride and solidarity and respect, just like keeping our streets and sidewalks clean. Neighbors of all ages, we’re in this together – we’ve all seen people young & old with and without masks – let’s stick together and we can continue to keep Massachusetts at the top of the list for combatting COVID.

  2. This is from an article in the New England Journal of Medicine:
    We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

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