//Maks for Dummies XI

Maks for Dummies XI

By I. smiley G. Calderón  | smileygcalderon@gmail.com

At this point, we know that masks work for both dummies and non-dummies alike.  

And, it’s really pretty simple: whip it out and slap it on your face, and then bam! – just like that, you’re a lifesaver – a bonafide modern superhero.  It’s true.  Masks save lives.

Saving lives is cool and all, but that’s not the only reason why masks are awesome.  

They also do a good job in hiding bad breath, which has been very convenient, to be honest.  But what I really love about masks is that they also let me talk to myself without anyone even noticing or judging me, which has actually been pretty therapeutic during this awful time, I’d have to admit.  It’s so liberating, I often wonder just how those poor ‘non-maskers’ go throughout their day so uncomfortably exposed.  Especially when their faces always stay so adamantly angry all the time at the mere mention of masks. They really don’t know what they’re missing out on.  A mask could instantly fix that ugly face.

In fact, masks have been known to make certain people look better.  And, let’s face it (no pun intended), some people need all the help they could get. Everyone wants their barber or cosmetologist to work a miracle for them. Yet the miracle is already at our fingertips. Just put it on and instantly get a makeover.

And, who doesn’t love anonymity?  As an introspective, introverted person at times, I’ve loved the freedom that masks have given me to feel secure and confident out in public. Wearing a mask has been liberating because it helps me feel at ease around people, which can be difficult at times when I start feeling insecure.  Wearing a mask helps me feel freer.

All of these unexpected intangible benefits of mask-wearing emerged from the basic physical need that we recognized early on in the pandemic to limit and prevent Covid-19 spread at all costs.  We understood that covering up our noses and mouths in public – although uncomfortable and awkward – was and still is an effective mitigating measure to combat SARS-CoV-2.  The idea is that if we could curtail or prevent the spread of this virus from person to person by collective mask-wearing, then we could effectively prevent its replication.  And if we could prevent this virus’s replication, it would effectively be stopped in its tracks.  We win.

And this plan has worked.  Sadly, it would have worked a whole lot better and hundreds of thousands of Americans could possibly still be alive today if our nation and communities had seriously organized and institutionalized mandatory public mask-wearing instead of downplaying it or making it optional. Indeed, our American Covid-19 death toll is a horrible tragedy, yet we are still not out of the woods yet.  We are still active within this pandemic.  And we need to stick to the plan in order to end it. The good news is that we have made significant strides in this coronavirus battle.  Our positivity rate has really dropped across the country.  Deaths are no longer in the thousands per day.  Here in Fresno County, we are averaging only about 5 new Covid cases per 100,000 per day (And, since the county is made up of roughly 1 million people, that comes out to about 50 new cases per day).  Compare that to 41 new Covid cases per 100,000 per day back in February.  So this is a good trend.  We want to lower the transmission rate and stop SARS-CoV-2 right in its tracks.  

But, the death rate. This has continued to be troubling.  Here’s why.  Right now, the national Covid death rate is at 1.8% (577,314/32,445,034). In Fresno County, it is 1.6% (1,670/101,263).  They are pretty much consistent.  This means that for every 100 Covid infections, about 2 people will die from it.  Or, another way to look at it – for every 50 new coronavirus infections, 1 Fresnan will die because of it.  That may not seem like a lot, 1 or 2 people a day dying from Covid.  Is that the ‘acceptable’ threshold to justify fully reopening all businesses and activities like pre-Covid days?  It’s sad to think like that, but you know that’s how certain governmental and business leaders are looking at it.

So, we need to continue to protect ourselves.  And, how do we do that?  Thank God, we all can do that now by getting fully vaccinated, of course.  This is so very crucial.  But the other way we will continue to protect ourselves is by wearing our masks in public.

It’s proven. It’s simple. It’s effective – even a dummy can do it.

I. smiley G. Calderón is a Gen X Chicano and lifelong educator who spent a career in academia in Southern California, but is most proud of being a father.