On the occassion of Doctor’s day Indo – American Filmmaker/Physician Dr. Ravi Godse shares his thoughts on the new normal Masks:An insight to unmask
There are many things that divide us. Previously, tragedies, unfortunate as they may be, used to pull everyone together. Not now. Not anymore. Masks will come to symbolize the sharp divide between people who are apparently neglecting the pandemic and people who are obsessed with it. I sympathize with both sides. Both sides are wrong.
Let us review what we know today. As simply as we can. This issue is really simple, and I hope people stop making it too complex.
Let us assume that you are wearing a cloth cover or a surgical mask (not N95). The mask does not protect you but it protects others from you. You wear it to protect others and expect others to wear one to protect you. I think that that makes perfect sense. You can expect to expect certain things, but the moment you try to enforce it or start moralizing, things become confusing.
Masks can make some people uncomfortable. Some peoplecan feel suffocated. As summer heats up, masks can become sweaty, soiled, and itchy. The more you think about them, the more they can irritate you. It is totally alien to theopen and friendly societies most people in the world live in. Also if you are the type of person who adjusts the masks constantly by touching your face, then if there are droplets on your hand, you are literally taking them to your mouth.
The people with hearing impairments at times depend on lip reading. This will be a discrimination against them. Many people like me, speak English as well as or better than most, but we do have accents. Some of my patients may need to read my lips. Literally. This will be discrimination against accented immigrants. I really don’t think so, but sharing the paranoia of minority groups, gives my argument the best chance to be heard. It is true that it is cynical. It is cynical that it is true.
Most people will be all right and will behave. If you are in public and you are either not wearing a mask or not wearing a mask properly, it is likely, there maybe someone near you, who is of, ‘let me talk to your supervisor’ types. That person will be compelled to confront or correct you.
From your point of view, if you are feeling fine, you have had it with whatever is going on, then you have a reason not to wear a mask. In addition to that, you would prefer the person approaching you keeps his or her mouth shut. And there are two excellent scientific reasons for this impolite wish. If the person approaching you desires to be protected from you, if that person’s mouth is closed, there is a lower chance of droplets falling in. Also speaking loudly can increase the chance of droplets going far. So now that person is not protecting you.
Let us consider the person who feels that the non-maskwearer is putting the mask wearer at risk. It is a valid fear. If someone is afraid of going in public, or is anxious about the virus, it can make them very uncomfortable. There is a solution for that too.
The current masks (cloth/surgical) that you wear do NOT protect you. But the N95 respirator does. To wear N95 now would be irresponsible, because they should be reserved for health care workers. But that shortage is not going to last forever. Come on, man, we live in the US of A. We will soon be making masks/ventilators for the entire world. So at a cost, people will be able to buy N95 so they get to go out, need not be afraid of catching it (they can still catch it and N95 should not give them a false sense of security, but it would be more protective than a regular mask).
It will cost them more. But there is a cost/downside to everything. If that reduces the friction and confrontation, we can set up a fund to buy N95 masks for people who are afraid of other people not protecting them and are unable to afford the masks. I will be happy to contribute to this fund. That way I am putting my money where my mouth is. Sadly you can’t see my mouth; it is hidden behind the mask. I believe in wearing them, at least for now, but I am deeply sympathetic with people who don’t want to wear them.
The enemy is hidden, true. We can hide too. But let us aim to shed the masks soon and face each other proudly, the good Lord made us after all in His image for a reason.