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Archive August 2020 XXI, No. 8

Behind Closed Doors: Wear a Dang Mask!

The morons who fight simple safety measures should scare us all.

Paula Watkins

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR


LET'S FACE IT The nation needs a lesson in where masks should be worn.

Like religion or politics, I don’t feel comfortable talking about the reopening of our country. It makes me anxious. I don’t believe we’re ready even though I understand the shutdown hurts our economy and folks need to make a living. But based on what I’ve witnessed so far during this pandemic, I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in humanity to stop the spread of the coronavirus without strong mandates in place.

As I write this, more than 150,000 Americans are gone. I can only imagine what that number will be by the time this article goes to print. Still, an alarming percentage of people can’t even be bothered to don masks out in public. I’m trying to understand how people can go out without a mask on and, worse, do so while purposely avoiding social distancing. Do these maskless morons think they can’t catch the virus or pass it along to the rest of us?

Refusing to wear a mask is only one of the issues that could stop us from getting to the other side of this pandemic. Some folks desperately need to be educated on how to wear a mask effectively. We need an all-nation in-service that covers mask-wearing basics: It goes over the nose and the mouth, not one or the other. It should not be used to cover only the neck or chin. Don’t cut a hole in it to smoke through. Plus, I don’t know how masks can be counted as a safety measure when people are pulling it up and down while drinking in a bar. Just sayin’.

Doing my part

I feel safer in surgery than I do being out in public. Working in the OR for so many years has made wearing a mask second nature to me. I know I’m a lot safer than those who walk around maskless. Glasses also make me feel safer. I used to wear glasses only for distance. I missed a lot of movies on dates in high school and college because I didn’t want my suitors to see me in my specs. During the day, I’d put my glasses underneath a huge pair of sunglasses. Age has fixed the vanity of a young woman and I’ve finally embraced the four-eyes look.

I wore gloves growing up to wash dinner dishes. Still do. That behavior has extended to my weekly errand runs. I drive around town with my trusty box of gloves on the front seat and enter big box stores with gloved hands held up like I’m walking into an OR.

Social distancing isn’t a problem for me, either. I don’t like to be hugged by strangers, coworkers or distant relatives. But I love to wrap my arms around those in my circle of close family members and dear friends. I’m just concerned about what I might give them — hence the mask, gloves and social distancing.

I’m a traveling nurse and about to book a flight back to California for a work assignment. I’m nervous about being in an airplane. I know cleaning crews scrub surfaces after each flight, but what if they miss a spot? I know how difficult it is to cover every inch in an OR between cases. I’m going to pay for an extra carry-on bag so I can pack it with all the PPE they’ll allow. I’ll take one of those yellow gowns we use for isolation and two masks — one over my nose and the other over my mouth.

When you see me out in public, I will be the picture of PPE. If anyone dares comment, I’ll just say exactly what I read on Facebook recently. “You’re welcome. I’m a nurse, I’m doing this for you.” OSM

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