I read a fair bit, and I dabble in all sorts of topics, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ignorant about a whooooole ton of things. When I realize there’s a gap in my knowledge, I like to correct it, especially when it’s about something as important (right now) as “Should people wear masks?”
As I’ve been involved in discussions about opening things up again (whether it’s the state, church, campus, circles of friends, or more), one issue that keeps cropping up is, “What about people who can’t wear a mask?” Not people who don’t want to. What if there are people who literally can’t wear a mask for religious or medical or some other reason? I want to be as fair and open as I can, but I also want everyone around me to be safe.
I’ve poked around a bit about this online, and I’ve seen plenty of people claiming “If you don’t want to wear a mask, just say you can’t wear one for medical reasons, and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires people to let you in, no more questions asked!” Of course, I’m also seeing articles that says that’s not the case if the restrictions are done for health reasons.
My knee-jerk reaction (which is often wrong) is to bristle at the people who are claiming they can’t wear a face mask. I am concerned they’re using a law that’s designed to protect the vulnerable as a sort of sledgehammer to let them do what they want. So I’m trying to broaden my horizons some and see if there are valid reasons I’m not thinking of. (Quite possible.) But let me preface this call for input with some of the things I don’t think are valid, medical reasons. (Not that these aren’t potentially problematic, but from the research I’ve done so far, they’re all issues that can be dealt with in one form or another, typically by switching the type of mask being worn. They might be valid reasons, but I’d want them backed up by an actual doctor, and not just a self evaluation.):
- Masks are uncomfortable
- Masks irritate my skin
- Masks make me feel claustrophobic
- Masks make me feel like it’s harder to breathe
Again, I want to protect people who have real vulnerabilities in this area, but a big part of me thinks this is a case where, to not wear a mask, you’d need to carry around some sort of a piece of paper signed by a doctor indicating you have a real medical issue. Even then, I would think there might be ways around the issue, whether it’s through distance learning on campus, curbside pickup at the store, or other workarounds. After all, there are rules about having shirts and shoes on or else not being allowed inside a store. There’s precedent for exceptions to the “all are welcome” general rule.
America tries very hard to be “fair” in a way many other countries do not. There are laws to ensure entrances and exits are accessible. There are laws to make sure people are treated equally. (They don’t always work, but the ideal is there.) COVID-19 seems to be an area where this pressing desire to be fair might be conflicting with the need to be safe. Other countries have issued edicts: if you’re out of your house, you have to wear a mask. No exceptions. I worry that a lot of the anti-maskers have watched people with real disabilities get exceptions, and they view this as a time they can do the same thing.
I apologize in advance if any of this came across as callous or mean-spirited. I’m genuinely trying to understand if there’s a hole in my “can’t wear a mask” experience. So with that as a preamble, I’ll shut up now and see what other people have to say. Please keep remarks civil.
Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.
If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.