After a crazy week in an even crazier year, someone close reminded me to wear a mask Sunday before I went to the big box grocery store where I regularly shop.
They required it, she reminded me, after my virtual visit to church Sunday morning.
All those previous reminders about why we wear masks flooded back: recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Gov. Brian Kemp — as well as the sheriff’s deputy manning the metal detector at the Newton County courthouse entrance.
Wear a mask: It’s the most effective way we currently have to stop the spread of a disease which has prompted government leaders to close down whole economies and outlaw traditional forms of gathering with others.
There also was a big reminder for anyone who follows the news. President Donald Trump and wife Melania tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and the president was being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center over the weekend.
The disease has hit the 74-year-old president’s age group the hardest. It had killed 1.03 million worldwide, 209,000 in the U.S. and almost 7,000 in Georgia by the weekend.
I believe the president when he said he didn’t want to alarm the nation in February when he knew the severity of COVID-19 but said nothing.
He could have done a better job handling it but he, along with some other leaders like U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, were in uncharted territory and chose their own directions for their countries. Johnson, by the way, also was treated for the disease.
In fact, much of President Trump’s staff may have been infected last week as they went mask-less during fundraisers and campaign events — though with the tiny bits of information the White House was giving out it was hard to tell.
CDC guidelines for protecting one’s self from the disease state: “Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
“Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.”
So, it was a little upsetting when I noticed that no one at the door of the store I was about to enter was telling the hordes of Sunday afternoon shoppers masks were required.
Many shoppers didn’t seem to be taking the risk of infection seriously, even after the president and first lady had been diagnosed.
At least a third of shoppers (and probably more — I didn’t stop to count) were not wearing masks and didn’t appear to have medical conditions that prompted them not to wear them. Maybe they did, I don’t know. It’s a good bet they did not.
Hardly anyone in line or in the aisles was staying 6 feet apart.
In July, at least 28 major U.S. retailers required shoppers to wear face coverings before entering their stores. But many of the largest didn’t stick to it and soon said they’d let customers without masks “continue to shop,” according to news sources.
One giant retailer reportedly was telling its employees not to enforce the rule to avoid upsetting customers without masks who’d been known to ram employees with their carts or pull guns on other shoppers who wanted them to follow the rules, according to multiple reports.
That prompted a national retail workers’ advocate to label mask policies a “publicity stunt” on many stores’ part.
Now, the president is a Republican, is one of the most protected people in the world, and has a lot of money.
What kind of reminder does one need that anyone in this country, regardless of political persuasion or size of bank account, can get the virus and anyone could be spreading it by not wearing a mask?
Masks are not political statements. They’re statements you care about your fellow man.
However, in this country, we’ve got to voluntarily follow CDC guidelines. Our government and largest retailers are asking, not telling, individuals to wear masks and practice social distancing.
At what point do we want things back to “normal”?
I, for one, want them back to normal as soon as possible so we can experience churches filled with the faithful on Sunday mornings now, and Thanksgiving gatherings and Christmas parades in a few months.
Tom Spigolon is news editor of The Covington News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.