Before the coronavirus arrived in Canada, I was closely monitoring what was happening in China. I knew it was only a matter of time before it came to this side of the world, and so my husband and I started preparing. Before anybody was speaking about masks, when the government should have been piling, we were buying masks. So yes, I have respirators.
As the pandemic evolved and got more real, recommendations started to appear: Stay home. Don’t socialize with more than 5 people, don’t go outside of your household, and leave all medical masks for health care workers who need them the most. Made sense, but I kept ours anyway. We started GoFeedMe, an organization that shops and delivers groceries for those in isolation or in quarantine, and I thought they would come in handy to keep our volunteers, and by extension our clients, extra safe.
I was impressed with how quickly Ontario acted in protecting its citizens. It reassured me to see you, Mr. Ford, take decisive action and make hard, often unpopular decisions every day, with our best interests at heart. Investing money into the retooling of Ontario companies to make PPE, closing schools early, and many of the other executive orders you put in place allowed me to feel safe.
I went out very little. I stayed home. I stayed safe. I kept my family safe.
But then, you messed up. You socialized with your daughters on Mother’s Day, when the orders had not been lifted. Your message got confusing. You allowed Ontarians to believe it was now OK to see family, even though medical authorities were telling everyone to hunker down. Everyone around me started going out, gathering with people and letting their guard down.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel so safe anymore. I was in my own strict 5 person bubble, inside looking out, incredulous, as I witnessed neighbours having “parties” in parks, streets and backyards, with many more people than allowed. I was isolated not by your guidelines, but by the fact that I seemed to be the only one taking this seriously.
As time went by, many businesses went back to serving clients, which is great. We need to reopen, I get that. Although myself not nearly ready to make a hair appointment, I was thrilled to see my “Hair Artiste” able to safely get back to doing what she does best. She’s awesome.
But I’m worried, Mr. Ford. I’m worried to see some of the patios in my small town always full with people who are drinking, talking, hugging, exercising very little social distancing. Most are doing fabulous keeping strict social distancing measures, but some are really questionable. I’m worried to see entire families going for a jolly shopping trip at our local Walmart because there is nothing better to do. I am worried to see just how many Quebecers invade my town every week-end, so much that some beaches had to be closed again. And I’m sad to say that the vast majority of people do not wear masks anywhere, period. Why would they? It’s only a recommendation.
But by now, we all know masks work. We’ve seen examples of hair stylists having contracted covid-19, avoiding outbreaks because both them and their clients were wearing masks and practising other measures, while some nail salons went into full outbreaks for lack thereof. We’ve seen first hand how peaceful protests, where 99% of the people were wearing masks, didn’t result in spikes. Masks have the potential to work extremely well in stopping the spread, but only if used by 100% of the people.
I get that you want to give Ontarians the choice, I get that some people feel like masks are used to try to silence them. I am painfully aware of all the conspiracy theories you have to contend with. Believe me, I hear them every day. But you must look further. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose by mandating the use of face coverings in public places. I understand that you feel that you can’t police 14 million people, but you don’t have to. Like with seat belts, you just have to deal with those you find.
I was told today that “stupid people wearing surgical or N95 masks are actually killing health workers.” I would debate that rather, stupid people refusing to wear a simple cloth mask in public settings are the ones killing health workers. They are the reason people feel unsafe and resort to buying surgical or N95 masks to protect themselves. When I go out–and I can count on my hands the amount of times I’ve been out–I wear a mask. That’s great. But that does not protect me against other people. It only protects them against me, in case I am asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. My decision to wear a mask does not affect those who don’t wear them negatively. I don’t risk their lives by wearing a mask, but they sure are risking mine by not wearing one! Unless I wear an N95. Then, I am protected.
So since they won’t make this small, kind effort to protect others, and you won’t make wearing cloth masks mandatory, you leave me no other choice than to take a precious N95 mask, one that should most definitely be reserved for health care workers, and protect myself adequately. Can you blame me?
I absolutely do not want this virus. There are too many unknowns about it. I am seeing what it is doing down in Texas where most of my family lives and I want no part of it. I don’t care that there are many beds and ventilators available to accommodate me if I do get ill. I don’t want to be on a ventilator, thank you very much. I would much rather ride this wave and show up in one piece, with all my organs intact, at the other end, when and if they finally find a vaccine or a treatment, or if it dies out. And I will do everything I can to stay safe.
I would ask you to make a provincial mandate, but it no longer matters. Thank God my local health unit is taking action and making them mandatory as early as next week. Then we can all leave medical devices to medical professionals.
But please, people, don’t wait until the law is in effect. Wear it now.