Since COVID-19 arrived in North Carolina, we’ve all grown familiar with hearing statements encouraging and even requiring people to wear masks in the public setting. I know many people who have been following the protocols that NC Governor Roy Cooper has put into place, whether it be complying with the three-phase system, adhering to the stay-at-home order or wearing masks when venturing out into public. However, I also know many people who have disregarded these protocols, and even some who still think COVID-19 doesn’t exist.
Like many, I have read a multitude of news articles and stories about COVID-19 in an attempt to prepare for a safe return to campus in the fall. My understanding is that move-in days will be staggered, as well as that masks and social distancing will be enforced in classrooms. However, it feels as if my social media feed is split between posts of people deep in quarantine and others who have flown across the country for a vacation. I know I am not the only who anticipated the pandemic being over already. However, even if we wish it was all done, that is no excuse for people to disregard directions from Governor Cooper about mask rules and social distancing. Even though businesses, restaurants and bars have opened their doors, respect for another person’s well-being should still trump one’s own desire to socialize.
I know, I understand. People are anxious to get back to normal life and are tired of the way that COVID-19 affects our day-to-day living. I understand trying to find normalcy in the midst of these uncertain times — I’m still clinging to it every day where I can find it. Wearing masks can often limit that feeling of normalcy and remind people of the current challenges our society is facing. For example, people are struggling economically due to the shutdown that occurred as a result of COVID-19, and my heart breaks for them. I also understand the frustration with NC remaining in Phase 2 even though cases of COVID-19 are still rising. However, by no means do I understand non-compliance and ignoring the rules that have been put in place for our health and safety.
Whenever I find myself out in public, I’m always shocked at the number of people I see going in and out of shops, restaurants and other businesses without masks on. One of the most appalling arguments I have heard concerning opposition to wearing masks is that they feel their personal freedoms are being inhibited by them. These anti-mask sentiments have especially been amplified through a religious lens.
As far as my religious beliefs are concerned, I am a Christian, so a majority of my research on COVID-19 relates to Christianity. I watched a video where somebody was yelling, “God gave me the ability to breathe, and wearing a mask inhibits that,” and “God gave me the breath of life, and that means breathing in oxygen and our carbon dioxide normally.” The people who have encouraged me in my faith have always taught me that the highest commandment was to love one another and to love your neighbor as yourself. I would feel horrible if I unknowingly spread the virus to others, and there’s one easy way to greatly reduce the chance of that happening: by wearing a mask when out in public. It may be an inconvenience at times, but in the long run, it’s not hard to put a piece of cloth over half your face. Christians are called to love others at all times and in all circumstances — what better way to do so during this difficult time than to wear a mask out in public to keep yourself and others healthy?
There is also significant data from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) that shows wearing masks in public can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19. Just last week, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield published a statement saying that the COVID-19 surge could be controlled in four to six weeks if people consistently wear masks. This news was so encouraging to me, as it reminds me that we can and we will conquer this pandemic. However, it is going to take collective effort and sacrifice. The sooner we all wear masks, the sooner this pandemic will be over and we can all return to normalcy. Wearing masks during this time is also a sign of love, so let’s put on our masks and tackle COVID-19 together.
By Hannah Porter, Staff Writer