//Masks For Dummies pt. XII

Masks For Dummies pt. XII

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

When summer finally kicked in, I thought for sure this would be it – the highly anticipated end to a somber yearlong saga-series. This series of how brilliant you are when you wear a mask over your mouth and nose during a pandemic. For sure, wearing a mask for protection against a sophisticated invisible killer virus sounds dumb because it’s just so very simple, almost too simple to possibly be effective. But, in this MFD series, we painstakingly spent a whole year taking a hard look at the pertinent data and trends – local, statewide, national and global. We know for a fact that masks are effective. There’s just no question about it. (Go back and look at the past eleven articles. You can start here). In fact, if we hadn’t started wearing masks quickly to curtail community transmission last year, Covid would have been much more destructive than it was. To think that a simple fabric affixed to our face could save lives – amazing! 

But what’s even more impressive, though, is the obstinate stupidity of countless Americans who found this simple life-saving measure just too complicated and onerous to bear. 

How pathetic! Truth be told, these guys were the real dummies.  

You know the type: privileged, entitled, and egotistical, riddled with pseudoscience and fake news. The combination is deadly. And, of course, these anti-masking dummies have countless excuses on why covering their airways in public is ‘communist’ or ‘dangerous.’ They argue while numerous other people’s lives are actively ravaged and destroyed by a highly infectious disease that doesn’t care about your political affiliation, race or economic status – only the sweet accessibility of your open airways.

Yet, if you’re reading this, we’ve successfully weathered the storm and ridden out this horrible pandemic wave together. Although it’s still not over, it looks like this era of life-saving mask-wearing is coming to a foreseeable end here in the U.S, thanks to the modern medical miracle of vaccines. Are you excited?

Or are you still a little bit wary and nervous about leaving your innocent airways so vulnerably open in public, like me? After everything we’ve learned this past year about how rapidly and easily respiratory viruses spread through our noses and mouths (when they aren’t properly covered, that is), I’m still concerned about being out in public without a mask. Who knows what’s in our air!? If it’s not some pernicious virus today, then it’s some caustic chemical tomorrow, probably. 

When you really stop to think about it, isn’t it incredible just how truly vulnerable we really are when we are not masked up? And isn’t it amazing how we hadn’t had to take these kinds of extreme measures before within our lifetimes until Covid emerged? Sadly, this coronavirus pandemic really opened our eyes to the possibility of unthinkable community health scenarios.

Covid-19 was and is a horrible, unthinkable disease so easily contagious because its virus is super adaptable. It is efficiently shaped, sized, and spiked for maximum potency. The virion, SARS-CoV-2, is only a few hundred nanometers in diameter (sometimes even smaller). And a legion of them easily flies right inside our bodies through our unprotected airways like crusaders on a vicious warpath searching for unsuspecting cells to invade. We know all too well the horrible damage that can result. 

Thank goodness for masks. 

They actually work. With the right mask (choose an N95 or KN95, or use a double-layered cloth mask) appropriately worn over your mouth and nose, we can physically stop some of these spiked invaders in their tracks. And, without a biological host to feed on, viruses are surprisingly weak and easily destroyed in the open, harsh natural environment. But, of course, the trick is to not allow them to enter our bodies and infect us in the first place!  

Hence, masks.

In a pandemic with over 4 million tragic deaths worldwide, we have suffered a great deal: 606,000 fellow American souls snatched so suddenly. Here in Fresno County, we have lost 1,727 dear friends and family members to this deadly pestilence. So fast, so unexpectant, so unforgiving. Many didn’t take this virus seriously at all, but it definitely took us seriously, for sure. Non-maskers laughed at the ‘fake pandemic.’ They mocked those who desperately tried to protect themselves from disease and death with their simple face coverings – until the coronavirus knocked on their doors, of course. Of the 1 million people in Fresno County, 102,500 people have tested positive – that’s over 10% of our community. Nationally, we’ve had about 33.7 million coronavirus infections – again, over 10% of our population. Bottom line, everyone knows somebody who’s either been affected or infected – or both. 

Yet, we aren’t out of the woods just yet, dear reader. We are still in danger. Covid is still out there, and new, more deadly variants are emerging. Right now, the Delta strain, a new deadly variant that is at least twice as contagious as the original coronavirus, first identified in India, is taking over California. Over 35% of all new coronavirus infections are now Delta – a recent shift from the previous deadly dominant strain, Alpha, first identified in the United Kingdom. It’s no surprise, viruses evolve. That’s what they do. They replicate, evolve, replicate, evolve, ad infinitum. And they’re very good at it, as we can see.  

So, what does all of this mean for you? (I thought you’d never ask!)

Well, since our formidable, invisible foe constantly adapts and evolves for better survivability, we should do the same, too – right? Our species needs to adapt and better equip ourselves for a battle against this deadly species, consistently better at preparing itself to devour us. 

And so, for these epic Twenty-First Century viral wars, the very first thing you need to do is: get vaccinated

If you haven’t already gotten your shot, get it. This new technology is our modern-day armor, our enhanced adaptability – our primary line of defense against this fortified coronavirus invader.

These new variants are becoming so concerning that certain parts of the world are locking back down again. US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recognizes the impending danger and urges everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible: “If you are not vaccinated, then you are in trouble… .”

Do you really want this kind of trouble in your life?

No? Well good. 

Then get vaccinated. And continue to wear your mask when you are around lots of people or when you are up and close with unvaccinated folks.  

Yet, if, for some reason, you do not plan on getting vaccinated, then please know and understand how dangerous the situation is for you right now. It is super precarious. Contrary to popular belief, the pandemic is not over. Just because stores are opening up now and things may seem more and more normal, you are still very vulnerable. This virus is a deadly scouring predator that has efficiently learned how to perfectly adapt and circumvent all of your natural defenses against it. So you need to keep on wearing your mask like your life depends on it. Because it does.

Stay the course, friends.  Get vaccinated and protect those airways!