Wear a mask to protect others

Submitted by Mark Browning
Posted 4/21/20

Dear Editor:

I am the guy with the mask over my mouth, and I am your friend. As Powell edges closer and closer to our own version of this coronavirus pandemic, we all hope and pray that this …

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Wear a mask to protect others


Dear Editor:

I am the guy with the mask over my mouth, and I am your friend. As Powell edges closer and closer to our own version of this coronavirus pandemic, we all hope and pray that this nationwide disaster does not shed its wrath upon us like it has in the populated areas surrounding us, far away. We hope that, due to our isolation, we will be spared the pain and suffering and death that so many of our family members, friends, and acquaintances, and those unknown to us will face or are facing right now. However, numbers do not lie.

The statistics and modeling that epidemiologists use show us clearly that our time will come here in Powell. The first case has recently been reported in Big Horn County, and Cody has already reported a case. Who will be the first people to carry this microscopic little army of invaders into our midst? Will it be neighbors? Will it be transients? Will it be you?

Science clearly tells us that there are only two outcomes to this pandemic.

1. Mass infection of hundreds of millions of people achieving herd immunization, but also causing the death of literally millions and millions of Americans around us.

2. The same scientists who are telling us this could also create a vaccine in a year or more time, giving us another immunity without the rampant death toll.

Neither option is a pleasant one. With either of these scenarios, Powell is a long way from being in a safe place where we can go back to our often-carefree existence without regard to the microbiological life that can so quickly take everything from us. We have anywhere from months to a year or more of living with this pandemic.

There is little we can do to stop the virus from traveling into our community, but where we can take action is protecting others from ourselves — our potentially infected selves. I do not wear a mask because I am sick. Nor do I wear a mask because I am afraid you are sick. I wear a mask to protect you from the very small chance that I may become infected and, not knowing it, begin to spread it. This is how a mask operates: it prevents someone from coughing into the air the fine mist of saliva carrying the virus 5 or 10 feet away or more. It prevents this cough from landing spittle all across the surfaces that surround us and expose others to its terrible baggage — hundreds of millions of viruses waiting for their opportunity to strike deep inside you.

Our job as Powell residents caring for each other is to minimize the potential of spread throughout our community.  It is for you that I wear this uncomfortable, obnoxious, face piece. It is not for me. There are very few of us mask-wearing people out there today as I walk through the grocery store aisles — about the last place in Powell I inhabit for all the shuttered doors and empty storefronts throughout town. When you look at me, do not be afraid. When you walk by me, do not step back and jeer.

When you walk by me, stand 6 feet away, and thank me for caring enough about you to take this action of wearing a mask.  The day we all begin to take collective actions here in Powell to make this beautiful place safer for everyone — our older residents, our residents with health conditions that make them more susceptible to the ravages of this virus, to our first responders — this is when we can say great things about Powell.  We can say that we, acting on principle, have taken what was given to us and made the best we could out of this terrible situation, and now we are looking out for each other in the best ways we can.

It is not the mask-wearing people who you need to be worried about. It is those who do not wear masks and are not standing 6 feet apart that you need to be afraid of, for they are still living in the oblivion that this cannot happen to us here in Powell.

Mark Browning