//Masks for Dummies pt. VII

Masks for Dummies pt. VII

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

For some reason, I thought that after six straight months of writing about masks since the start of the pandemic, everyone would have gotten with the program. People would be willingly and even proudly wearing their masks in public for our community’s safety and well-being. I figured that yet another addition to this series would just be redundant and unnecessary. Boy, was I wrong! After continuing to see just how seriously Fresno is not taking Covid-19 by not wearing their masks, I knew that I had to continue. I decided to start the New Year off right with this seventh installment of Masks for Dummies. You’re welcome.

I had joked with the Flyer’s editor that this edition should just read in big, bold letters: IF YOU AREN’T WEARING YOUR MASK IN PUBLIC, YOU ARE A DUMMY!

And maybe that would be more effective than writing a thousand words trying to convince you of the same message just a bit more eloquently, who knows? But the reality is, after all these painful months enduring the pandemic, if you don’t believe in masks and their effectiveness in reducing viral community spread, something’s wrong (with you). Seriously. Right now, the coronavirus is simply out of control and ravaging our nation, our state, and our community. There has been so much Covid carnage that it’s almost unfathomable. It’s pretty incomprehensible, really. Consider this: the last time you read this article series in November, we were at 231,000 Covid deaths nationwide. Today, the horrific number is over 350,000 American souls. Thousands upon thousands are succumbing to Covid every day. Hospitals are full and morgues even fuller. And to make matters worse, robust models project over 100,000 additional deaths in the next month alone.  

Here in Fresno County, we have now lost 711 family members, friends, and neighbors to this terrifying invisible Covid monster. And right now, there are close to 600 people in our hospitals fighting for their very lives. We are still averaging thousands of new infections per week. But just a couple of months ago, our death toll was 443, and our total documented infections were at 31,321. Today, our total positive cases are over 67,500. This rapid rate of sudden sickness followed by premature despondent death is very alarming to our healthcare workers and leaders who only fear things will worsen in the weeks to come. Fresno hospitals are currently operating in contingency care, still offering ‘standard care’ to all patients. However, if things worsen and hospitals have to resort to ‘crisis care,’ this may not be the case, and hospitals will deploy their crisis care plan to determine which patients receive whichever level of care available. Each hospital would then triage its patients, and ethically decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t. We are getting to that point. Governor Newsom issued our Central Valley San Joaquin region a Stay-at-Home order a month or so ago because our ICU availability level was less than 15%. And he just recently renewed it again for at least another three weeks because our ICU availability hasn’t gotten any better. Instead, it’s gotten worse. The military has even been brought in to help out our hospitals with support staffing and personnel. County crisis contingency plans are in preparation ready to be rolled out. This nightmare never seems to end.

Of course, the current infection surge is related to the recent holidays – to family gatherings during Thanksgiving and get-togethers and secret parties for Christmas and the New Year. This is in addition to Covid fatigue, where we’ve gotten so tired of living under pandemic conditions that we put our guard down. We forget about our masks and safety measures for a moment and then risk it in public in an attempt to feel some sense of normalcy.

But we are nowhere near normal.

2020 is behind us, but it has permanently seared its awful memory in our minds. It has really gnawed on the soul of our free-spirited American culture. Clearly, there is still a great divide between people who voluntarily wear their masks for others’ safety (and their own) and those who only reluctantly do so when absolutely required (or who won’t wear one at all). In fact, the divide has even deepened, especially here in Fresno. Just recently, at the beginning of the year, anti-masker activists harassed innocent employees at Trader Joe’s in north Fresno. The store would not allow them to enter without a mask, which is their company policy, not to mention a statewide and citywide mandate. Dressed in their ‘Love your face // # BurnTheMask’ t-shirts, this ‘Coalition for Individual Liberties’ group (that’s what they call themselves) literally whined so much in front of Trader Joe’s that the store shut down early. The ‘Coalition’ saw this as a radical success. On Facebook, under their huge hashtag, #BURN THE MASK, they explain their mission: “Our purpose is to end the draconian measures being forced upon up [sic] by a tyrannical government and take back our God Given Individual liberties. Life Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness.” Draconian measures? Mask-wearing? Are you serious? Give me a break!

Seriously, just how super privileged and out-of-touch do you really have to be for you to feel wholly oppressed, to the point of desperation, from a mask? By a simple life-saving community health mandate to cover half of your face while out in public? Incredible! 

I just can’t believe how ludicrous this is.   

But maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. After all, in the era of DJ Trump’s ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’ reality, clearly, these anti-masker activists have a different set of coronavirus facts and live in a different coronavirus reality than what many millions across the country have experienced and know to be true. And, the sad truth is that these ‘Coalition’ types really believe their ‘alternative facts.’ They really believe nonsense like ‘masks don’t work,’ or ‘masks make you sick,’ that ‘Covid isn’t really deadly,’ or that ‘the government is just trying to control you,’ and on and on, ad nauseam.

All of this hassle and noise over a damn mask? You gotta be kidding me! And these guys are so-called patriots who would do anything for their country and countrymen? What a joke, ‘fighting for freedom and liberty’ by literally endangering and potentially killing off your neighbors with a biological weapon that you don’t understand and may be carrying, unknowingly. How patriotic. I mean, idiotic.  

Listen, I was going to write about cool advancements in masks and mask technology like a new mask designed by Northwestern University scientists that has an anti-viral layer that actually deactivates the coronavirus on contact – BUT – I realized that these cool new prototypes and projects are not what you need to read about right now. Right now, what you need to read are reasons for you to stay steadfast in wearing your masks despite the nonsense. Especially right now as this cunningly deadly virus is rapidly spreading and becoming more contagious in our everyday social interactions. Right now, what you need to read is something that will encourage and exhort you to stay committed to your resolve to wear your masks. To protect others from yourself and yourself from others, especially from crazies like the ‘Coalition’ who will absolutely not even think twice about endangering your dear lives by roaming around town, in and out of stores and public areas, defiantly and dumbly maskless. 

Protect yourself from these kinds of dangerous fools.

So, as I began this 2021 seventh edition of Masks for Dummies, I’ll also end: