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Mask mandate madness

Mask mandate madness Mask mandate madness

Dear Fred, I am seriously considering shaving off my beard.

As I write this we are just a few days into Gov. Tony Evers’ mandate that everyone must wear masks when inside buildings other than homes, in a private office or any number of potentially open-ended exceptions.

I am sure I am not the only beard wearer who is weighing the merits of going about with a naked face under their mask to cut down on the itchiness and beard-hair tugging from the mask fabric. I am wondering if I made the right choice in trimming my beard to allow for a better fit, or if having a longer beard would make things easier. I haven’t shaved on a regular basis since the start of my freshman year in college, so I am understandably not eager to start now.

It has been about a month since I have written to you future reporter Fred in the year 2120 to spoon feed you a boots on the ground perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 for your 100th anniversary retrospective. I realize that for you it is just flipping forward a few more screens or just clicking down to the next link in your file search, but in the subjective nature of time, the past month has been a long one.

Much to the dismay of those who hoped the virus would burn itself out by mid-summer, it appears to be going strong and the cases in Taylor County continue to increase. About 10% of the county population has been tested to see if they had the virus, so it is still pretty good that the confirmed cases are less than 60.

Unfortunately, that is not the case everywhere. In several hotspots around the state, including just down the road in northeastern Clark County, cases continue to explode and people have died from the illness. I think we are all praying that the death count for Taylor County remains zero as long as possible.

The growing number of cases across the state prompted the governor to declare a new state of emergency and to impose a mask order. You can imagine how well this has gone over among the people who don’t feel the government belongs telling them anything they should do. Sadly the intersection of politics and public health has historically been littered with the bodies of innocents and this situation is no different.

As expected there are plenty of deniers who either think the virus doesn’t really exist at all, or who think all the precautions and worry, are over reacting. I tend to err on the side of caution, not to the point where I am holed up in my basement surrounded by cases of canned beans and a pallet of toilet paper, but that I am willing to take basic precautions including wearing an uncomfortable mask that causes my beard to itch.

Civility has been an unfortunate casualty of the pandemic as people seem ready to go to battle over any innocuous statement. As a country we have forgotten how to hold differing viewpoints while still getting along. It is rather sad.

One of the peculiar aspects of life here in 2020 is the number of people whose IQ and sense of common courtesy seems to plummet as soon as they log into social media. For some reason people feel that it is not only acceptable but welcome to post comments about people online that they would not say to their faces. Fred, I hold out hope that this has worked itself out by your time.

I remain hopeful for the future, Fred, but I am beginning to worry more and more if that hope is misplaced.